Mine for better office options underground

 In Blogs

Kansas City is used to the barbecue tag. We now have some James Beard winners. Our craft beer scene is thriving. But a former Cool Whip capital? You may not know that one.

Don’t scoff quite yet—it turns out that back in the 1950s and 60s when frozen foods were thawing their way into American hearts and stomachs, there was more Cool Whip warehoused in Kansas City than anywhere else in the world. Yep, all that deliciousness was living underground, in limestone caves that were slowly being converted from mines into cold storage warehouses.

Thanks to continental glaciers from the last Ice Age, the Kansas City region is covered in limestone bluffs. That limestone was as good as gold as Kansas City grew, providing vital paving and building material for roads and other infrastructure. After the mining wrapped up around the end of the 1960s, we were left with huge underground spaces that now make up more than 7 percent of our area’s total industrial offering—and we’re now the U.S. leader in underground industrial space.

If you’re a business owner looking for your next space, is your company ready for something different?

No more fighting over the thermostat

Kansas City’s underground space offers a lot more than a place to warehouse goods—it’s also a smart choice for business owners looking for an energy-efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional offices. In fact, underground office and industrial spaces are perfect for e-commerce, record storage, data centers, small businesses, mini-storage, and much more.

One of the primary reasons for the versatility is the constant year-round temperature only underground can provide. That’s not just a minor convenience; it can be a huge comfort for your employees. And as we all can attest, any employee will be much happier and productive when they’re not freezing in the winter or sweating at their desk in the summer.

The lower humidity levels are also much kinder to packing materials than the wide swings of above-ground locations. Oh, and all the rain we’ve had this year? Underground tenants don’t need to worry about water leaks, which means they can breathe easier storing wine, perishables and dry goods underground.

Amanda Loudin explains the appeal for local companies in Food Logistics:

“Walking around the streets of Kansas City, no one would suspect that an entire subterranean world exists beneath their feet. And yet for close to 50 years now, that’s been the case … Companies have been in on the secret for a long time and take full advantage of all the benefits underground storage has to offer.”

Costs go down as you go down

Need some additional benefits before you join the cave-dwellers? Consider these financial advantages that would make any business owner smile:

  • Save money on your lease: As compared with above-ground equivalents, underground leases often run 30 to 50% less.
  • Save money on your utilities: This is a nice ripple effect of that constant temperature, and can reduce your rates by 50 to 70%.
  • Save money on taxes: What may cost $1 per square foot above ground may only cost you 30 or 40 cents below.
  • Save money on construction: The roof is already built; all you need are walls. That can mean a reduction of more than 30% from your builder’s invoice.

In addition to the naturally safe and secure environment of an underground limestone structure, underground spaces also feature state-of-the-art safety measures, constant fresh-air ventilation systems, high-speed data connectivity, surprisingly tall ceilings—everything a thriving local business needs to succeed.

Underground is looking up

As excited as I am to see all the latest development – especially downtown and in our urban core – Kansas City also has so much to offer just beneath our feet. It may feel like a whole other world down there, but it’s still uniquely Kansas City—just like barbecue and Cool Whip.

Larry McMillin is vice president of leasing at Copaken Brooks, a full-service commercial real estate firm headquartered in Kansas City and serving the Midwest. The company’s full suite of services includes: leasing (office, medical, retail, industrial and underground), construction management, investment acquisition and sales, tenant representation and HQ relocations, condo management, property management, asset management, and development. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @CopakenBrooks.

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