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SubTropolis: Kansas City’s Best Kept Secret

Every year, Kansas City movers relocate to the metropolitan area for its historic culture and Oceans of Fun theme parks and recreations. The “City of Fountains” is the 37th largest city by population and the 23rd largest by area in the United States, making this land exceptional for business real estate. While Kansas City offers an abundance of land for storefronts, many Kansas City movers and locals are unaware of the eco-friendly opportunities that lie just 100 feet below their streets.

Down there, is a place called SubTropolis. A five million square-foot slab of leased land that is home to some 55 businesses. This enterprise zone located 100 feet below ground is Kansas City’s best kept secret. SubTroplis opened for business in 1964 and with tons of warehouses, light-industries, and office spaces and a network of more than two miles of rail and six miles of roads, SubTroplis is the world’s largest underground business complex. You can find everything from 100-pounds of sacked coffee beans to millions of U.S. Postal commemorative stamps. The President of SubTroplis, Ora Reynolds, says about 10 percent of Kansas City’s commercial real estate is underground.

In the 1970’s, when the energy crisis hit, many businesses relocated underground to reduce heating and air-conditioning demands. The constant ambient temperature underground is about 85 percent lower than for a building on the surface, according to Donald Woodard, the former director of underground planning at nearby Park University. Many employees like to say the weather in SubTropolis is “overcast and mid-60s.”

Vanguard Packaging, a SubTropolis firm that manufactures cardboard displays for retail stores, aims for a zero carbon footprint. “We have 380,000 square feet that we’re not heating or cooling,” says CEO Mark Mathes.  Moreover, the low permeability of the limestone and intervening layers of shale keeps goods and records dry, an attribute, no doubt, that inspired the Postal Service to store its stamps down there.

Many Kansas City movers are pleased with the growing opportunities that SubTroplis has to offer and many distant folks are moving to Kansas City to get involved in this energy saving work experience. Employees don’t get to see the sky, but what they do see, after driving through a hole in the side of a hill to reach their offices, is an endless expanse of limestone, walls, ceiling, pillars, and floor. A facilities manager compared working underground to being in a mall. It more closely resembles an oversized parking garage with some 10,000 limestone support pillars. You may not be getting a corner office with a sky view, but you will have a pillar view of limestone.

Mining limestone for the use of roadway construction and agriculture is still underway, with additional acreage carved our each year. With 90 percent of the world’s subsurface office space and 45 million additional square feet available for future occupancy in SubTropolis alone, Moving to Kansas City is quickly becoming a great career choice and a great solution to our energy problems.