By Abby Hoover
Pendleton Heights is Northeast’s westernmost neighborhood that boasts Kansas City’s first Boulevard, portions of three city parks, one of only two nationally-listed urban scenic byways, and the largest collection of true Victorian homes in the city.
Although city limits have expanded in the years since Pendleton Heights was built, it was originally one of the oldest suburbs of Kansas City.
Pendleton Heights Neighborhood Association board member Linda Fleischman has lived in the neighborhood for a decade and a half, and the choice was very intentional. After moving from New York, she spent nearly five years researching crime maps, attending different neighborhoods’ meetings, asking for advice and touring communities before settling down in Pendleton Heights.
“When you buy a house, most people don’t think of it, but you’re buying new neighbors, too,” Fleischman said. “So I kept coming back to Pendleton Heights, and the rest is history. We’ve been here for 15 years, and I love it.”
She is currently focused on fundraising, membership, the neighborhood website, and many communications aspects. In addition to the administrative tasks, her main priority remains helping move her neighborhood into a brighter future.
“At the end of the day, we all want the same things,” Fleischman said. “We want a neighborhood we feel safe in and we want a neighborhood that is engaged and we’re looking out for each other. Let’s see. Those are really the two main things. The third one is the obvious one, the architecture here is, for the most part, pretty stellar.”
Social media has helped neighbors stay connected during the pandemic, but Pendleton Heights is planning more in-person gatherings as the weather warms up.
“We’re just more connected than we’ve ever been, and that may be in part due to, you know, coffee shops opening up in the area like Core Coffee and PH Coffee,” Fleischman said, sitting in the new Core Coffee, formerly Splitlog Coffee Co., on Olive Avenue. “That gives us all a place to meet, which is really nice.”
Last year, Art Garden KC attracted visitors from all over the metro to Pendleton Heights each Sunday. The local artist street fair is gearing up for its second season, and bringing with it a flood of first-time visitors.
“Come out on a Sunday and marvelous things are happening and there’s a gorgeous mix of people,” Fleischman said. “It’s attractive. It has attracted more people to the area. They feel safer – when you say Northeast for some weird reason, there’s still this connotation of crime – but if people look at statistics, things are a lot better. It’s been such a blessing for the area and I know that there are great things still to come from it.”
Many of the artists who started Art Garden KC live in Pendleton ArtsBlock, a mixed-income housing development at – Independence Ave.
“I don’t think it’s so much as finding a place for everyone, it’s acknowledging that everyone is here,” Fleischman said of the neighborhood that has both houses worth more than half a million dollars and many multi-family housing complexes. “That is the thing that keeps this neighborhood attractive to me and a lot of other neighbors. There is no other place in the city where you can see people from so many different countries passing each other on the sidewalk or at the grocery store, and I love that.”
Cornerstones of the community – like Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, which was founded in 1916, Della Lamb Community Services, which has resettled 840 refugees in Kansas City since 2014, and Jerusalem Farm – are based in Pendleton Heights, making it a central location for those hoping to improve their communities or seeking help themselves.
“KCU has been engaged in many things in Historic Northeast for a countless number of years, forever,” Fleischman said. “We love that Harmony Project [544 Wabash Ave.] is happening in the community center and that they can start doing stuff a little bit more easily than they were able to during the worst part of the pandemic. The kids are getting to do fun stuff now.”
Since the beginning of the year, tenants have moved into the newly renovated building at – across from PH Coffee. Education nonprofits Latinx Education Collaborative, Revolución Educativa and Show Me KC Schools now have a storefront office space based in the neighborhood.
“I think that’s incredibly wonderful for the neighborhood and it’s going to be a springboard to a lot of good things in the future, I think,” Fleischman said. “There once was a time when people would say, ‘Pendleton Heights, what is that?’” Fleischman said. “They’re starting to know now and I think that’s exciting. I mean, that holds true for a lot of the neighborhoods in Northeast. It’s finally becoming the place to live.”
In 2013, home renovation show “This Old House” named Pendleton Heights as one of their “Best Old House Neighborhoods in the U.S.”
Pendleton Heights resident and owner of Core Realty Eric Bellamaganya estimates there will be a handful of new construction houses built in the next year. While such old neighborhoods have options when it comes to infill housing, the neighborhood is working to blend the old and the new.
The Pendleton Heights Neighborhood Association held board elections earlier this year, and neighborhood leadership includes longtime residents, new neighbors and a variety of strengths and resources.
“Everybody has different attributes that are a great contribution to the group,” Fleischman said. “We’re finding our footing, but since there were already some people here that have a grip on what was and what needs to be completed from the previous administration is good. And having [Nathanaeli Leno] as president, I think, is a real plus too, because she knows a lot of the old school people and she’s very connected to some of the new ones, as well.”
Pendleton Heights is home to a variety of creatives, makers, artists, musicians. It’s also home to gardeners, young professionals, retirees, parents and community organizers.
“We’re all just really looking forward to getting back to socializing; however, we’re still being cautious about it,” Fleischman said. “So instead of doing the old-fashioned socials that we used to do long ago where different residents would host these socials, and people would get together and meet each other in a really nice, friendly way – it allowed for real friendships to be forged – but since we haven’t been able to do that, we’re doing porch socials starting in April. That’s for all the neighbors to come and meet each other.”
The themed socials, likely outdoors or in large spaces, are in addition to Pendleton Heights field trips, a new concept where residents visit businesses owned by their neighbors, small businesses in the neighborhood, or other places of interest.
“We did one at Brewery Imperial and in their beer garden, and it was outside so it was, you know, safe,” Fleischman said. “We’re getting to support neighbors and get to know more about our own neighborhood, you know?”
The neighborhood is hosting a community garden workday on March 19 at the southwest corner of Brooklyn and Minnie Avenues.
“The pandemic has been sad and people have stayed in, didn’t get out and see friends,” Fleischman said. “Fortunately, the coffee shops have helped make a difference with that. And then with our garden this summer, that’s going to help out a lot, too, in reconnecting people.”
Pendleton Heights Neighborhood Association meets the second Tuesday of each month at PH Coffee, 2200 Lexington Ave. More info can be found at phkc.org.