SubTropolis 475,200 SF facility

Going underground: Kansas City’s caves provide high-quality home to Ceva and Virbac

Going underground: Kansas City’s caves provide high-quality home to Ceva and Virbac
Joseph Harvey – Animal Pharm

With two leading animal health companies taking their warehousing and distribution facilities underground, Animal Pharm editor Joseph Harvey visited SubTropolis in Kansas City to see how caves offer the quality and safety the firms need.

The word ‘cave’ is slightly misleading when describing the ‘world’s largest underground business complex’ – a trademarked slogan.

Built into a limestone mine, SubTropolis is far from being a cave.

“It’s a skyscraper on its side,” explains Michael Bell, vice president of Hunt Midwest’s industrial and commercial teams. “Sometimes it feels like being in a big office building.”

Hunt Midwest is a real estate firm based in Kansas City. It is also the owner of SubTropolis – a 55 million square-foot space developed by the previous American football team owner Lamar Hunt, who not only headed the Kansas City Chiefs but also founded the American Football League and Major League Soccer.

“In the 1940s the area was mined for construction materials and no-one ever thought about what it would be used for after,” Mr Bell told Animal Pharm. The ‘a-ha moment’ – ultimately the spark that created SubTropolis – came when construction equipment was kept in the caves over the winter, to great effect.

Companies like Ford and Pilsbury then began using the mines as a storage space in the 1960s. “With a drill and dynamite” the owners expanded the space by two miles, creating a potential home for new clients. Ford is still a SubTropolis tenant, along with other high-profile clients such as the US National Archives and Records Administration, and the country’s Postal Service.

The key characteristics of SubTropolis are its quality in terms of consistent product storage temperature, high standards of security and access to distribution infrastructure, such as interstates.

“The complex naturally breathes through its several entrances, and with 200 feet of limestone above this facility, it is naturally insulated and maintains a constant temperature of 70 degrees, so it’s sustainable,” added Mr Bell.

Around 90% of the US can be reached from SubTropolis in two days, said Mr Bell – hard evidence that not only is the Kansas City area a hub for animal health but also for logistics and distribution.

Ryan Tompkins, manager of sales and leasing at Hunt Midwest, said not only is the firm able to expand the available space at SubTropolis very quickly, it is also on the lookout for more animal health companies to become tenants.

While the complex offers some spaces on a month-to-month basis – more suited for smaller firms – Mr Bell said SubTropolis’ clients tend to be more long term “50,000 square-foot tenants and above”.

“KC is a unique city underground,” added Mr Bell. “Around 10% of the city’s industrial market is underground.”

Of the 20 million square feet of storage space available in Kansas City, 6.1 million square feet belongs to SubTropolis.

Ceva intent on consolidating in caves

Ceva Animal Health has been a SubTropolis tenant for almost four years. When it first became a client in 2013, the company consolidated its US warehousing capabilities at SubTropolis. This saw it bring together operations from Kansas City, St Louis and New Jersey in the caves.

During 2015, Ceva extended its available space in the complex and now has 14 people working across 90,000 square feet of SubTropolis. The company has the option to yet further grow its warehousing at the facility. Ceva aims to further consolidate its warehousing in SubTropolis by bringing its vaccines to the complex. The company’s vaccines are currently housed at another location in Kansas City.

Craig Wallace, chief executive of Ceva’s North American and Pacific businesses, highlighted other key selling points of SubTropolis. He noted the access to the four nearby interstates as a significant boost to the delivery of products to Ceva’s distributors in all directions across the US.

Mr Wallace also pointed out the underground nature of the complex is perfect for security against theft, vandalism and severe weather.

“You don’t have to worry about the quality of storage here,” Mr Wallace told Animal Pharm. “There’s no weather problems down here. I’ve seen warehouse issues where products have been damaged by the weather before. That just can’t happen here.”

He also said the facility is recognized by leading regulatory authorities: “When we’re talking to the FDA, USDA or EPA, they’re all familiar with the facility. That’s a huge help.”

Virbac set to become tenants

Soon to join Ceva as a SubTropolis neighbor, is another North American business of a French animal health company – Virbac.

The firm is currently in the process of moving its warehousing and distribution from St Louis to the underground complex. Like Ceva, Virbac is also going through a consolidation process for its warehousing. This move will bring together operations from St Louis, St Joseph and Fort Worth. In time, Virbac intends to house all of its product lines in SubTropolis.

The company will take up 150,000 square feet of the complex, where it initially expects to employ around 10 people. Virbac is currently staffing these roles and conducting training – the move will come when Virbac gains approval from the Missouri Pharmacy Board later this year.

Paul Hays, the company’s president and chief executive of North American operations, told Animal Pharm: “Kansas City was the right fit. This facility is at the epicentre of the animal health corridor and from a GMP point-of-view, we are able to store products at a constant temperature, which is perfect. It’s cost efficient and disaster recovery is good here too.”

Mr Hays has in fact worked in SubTropolis before, when he was previously with Coopers Animal Health in the late 1980s.


SubTropolis by numbers

A total workforce of approximately 1,700 are employed in SubTropolis. They belong to a roster of 55 companies.

It features 6.5 miles of lighted and paved roads, as well as over 400 truck dock locations.

SubTropolis is built in limestone that is 270 million years old.

The strength of the limestone is 18,000-24,000 pounds per square inch, which makes it six times sturdier than concrete.

Despite being a cave, flooding is not a risk at SubTropolis – it is 12 feet above the 500-year flood plain.

SubTropolis 475,200 SF facility

SubTropolis Logistics Cluster helps 3PLs grow and expand

SubTropolis “Logistics Cluster” helps 3PLs grow and expand
When it comes to e-commerce, SubTropolis knows how to deliver
Ryan Tompkins – Manager of Sales & Leasing

Global e-commerce sales are expected to exceed $2 trillion in 2017, and the rapid transformation of retailers into e-tailers is creating fresh demand for logistic parks that provide a range of value added services.

As these e-tailers rely on 3PLs to provide more strategic oversight and function as an extension of their enterprise, site selectors increasingly are seeking out business parks with a high concentration of companies with logistics-intensive operations. These so-called “logistics clusters” include logistics service providers (3PLs), IT service providers, distributors, light manufacturing and kitting companies, as well as the distribution operations of retailers.

Besides offering access to a reliable supply base and a well-vetted and proven labor pool, logistics clusters create opportunities for shared knowledge and industry collaboration, according to a recent white paper published by MIT.

In Kansas City, Hunt Midwest is building a thriving logistics cluster at SubTropolis — a 6 million square foot underground business center that is home to more than 50 companies and 2,000 employees.  The result is a sustainable, climate controlled, plug-and-play solution for companies seeking a secured location for logistics-intensive operations.

Interest and activity from logistics-related companies, particularly 3PLs tied to eCommerce and the automotive industry, remains strong. Several 3PLs — including Menlo XPO , UPS Supply Chain, Ground Freight Expeditors, and Advanced Logistics and Fulfillment  — already have chosen SubTropolis and announced plans to expand operations.

A recent article in Logistics Management reports that demand is rising sharply for “e-commerce-ready” industrial real estate property, with growing pressure on retailers to ensure on-time delivery by locating inventory close to population clusters.  Hunt Midwest saw the e-commerce tide rising more than a decade ago and began investing millions into technology infrastructure. Today, leading IT provider LightEdge Solutions serves as the anchor tenant for SubTropolis Technology Center, the Midwest’s premier data center campus.

Just minutes from downtown Kansas City and situated within fast-growing suburbs in both Kansas and Missouri, SubTropolis offers direct access to the thriving Midwestern market of more than 2 million people. Immediate access to three major interstates and close proximity to nearby UPS and FedEx hubs allows companies to achieve 2-day shipping to 90 percent of the US, while offering “last mile” service seen as critical to top performing e-commerce locations.

With blockbuster growth projected for industries served by logistics-related companies and demand rapidly rising for centrally located, “locked and loaded” e-commerce space, Hunt Midwest believes its emerging “logistics cluster” at SubTropolis creates an incredible opportunity in this ever-changing, “just-in-time” world.

 

Ryan Tompkins is manager of sales and leasing for Hunt Midwest. Reach Ryan at rtompkins@huntmidwest.com.

animal health space for lease

The Animal Health Corridor is going underground.

The Animal Health Corridor is going underground.
Ryan Tompkins – Manager of Sales & Leasing

When choosing a location for warehouse, distribution and R & D facilities, animal health companies would be wise to check out SubTropolis, The World’s Largest Underground Business Complex™. SubTropolis is located in the heart of Kansas City, which is a centerpiece within the Animal Health Corridor, home to the world’s largest concentration of animal health companies.

With more than 6M square feet of contiguous underground space available and the potential to develop an additional 8M square feet, SubTropolis offers growing animal health companies the ability to scale quickly and efficiently. Without weather delays and lengthy permit approvals, climate controlled space can be built out on a much faster timeline than traditional above-ground properties.  Ceva Animal Health is the most recent company to expand within SubTropolis.

In 2016, the veterinary pharmaceutical company brought its total underground warehouse and distribution footprint to 90,000 square feet. Ceva initially leased 36,000 square feet in SubTropolis for warehouse and distribution space in 2014 as part of a consolidation effort to bring Ceva in closer proximity to its North American headquarters in Lenexa, KS.  Ceva CEO Craig Wallace has praised SubTropolis’ scalability, as well as consistent environmental conditions, as reasons for their expansion.  SubTropolis provides optimal storage conditions for the most stringent specifications.  Consistent temperature and humidity levels that are within USP defined “Controlled Room Temperature” ranges without the heavy upfront HVAC capital expenditures.  All of this results in significant occupancy and operational savings for Ceva.

A recent analysis of a temperature controlled 150,000 square foot distribution facility, for an animal health/bioscience company, indicated a savings of $125,500 on utilities by locating operations in SubTropolis.

In this on-demand world, animal health companies seeking warehouse and distribution efficiency will appreciate SubTropolis’ central location, not to mention its security measures.  With quick and reliable access to I-435, I-70, I-35 and I-29, companies within SubTropolis enjoy two-day delivery to 90% of the United States.

In addition, as Animal health companies require significant security protection, SubTropolis, with on-site 24/7 armed security, access control to the complex and on-site security system monitoring, offers a GSA Level III Secured Facility to meet the most stringent security requirements.

A perfect location for unmatched expansion flexibility, controlled environment and rock solid security — you can see why The Animal Health Corridor is heading to SubTropolis.

Ryan Tompkins is manager of sales and leasing for Hunt Midwest. Reach Ryan at rtompkins@huntmidwest.com.

Ford PSW-Approved industrial space

Ford is keeping the line moving in Kansas City.

Ford is keeping the line moving in Kansas City.
Ryan Tompkins – Manager of Sales & Leasing

When people think about Kansas City, chances are they think about barbecue, jazz, the Kansas City Chiefs and of course, our World Series-winning Royals.

What they may not realize is that along Kansas City’s I-35 Northland corridor, Ford has managed to cover all the bases by putting a winning team together to support production and customization of its two Kansas City-made vehicles, the top-selling Ford F-150 and the Ford Transit, the top-selling commercial van.

It all begins at Ford’s massive Claycomo Assembly Plant and it ends just a few miles south at Hunt Midwest’s Automotive Alley, a sprawling above- and below-ground commercial business park that is home to Ford’s 29-acre North American Vehicle Logistics Outbound Shipping facility, or NAVLOS.

After Ford F-150s and Transit commercial vans roll off the assembly line at Claycomo, they’re transported a couple of miles to the NAVLOS facility in Automotive Alley for staging. The vehicles are then transferred to one of 10 Ford approved upfitters located within Automotive Alley, which includes both the Hunt Midwest Business Center (HMBC) and SubTropolis, the world’s largest underground business complex.

Since 2012, Automotive Alley has seen tremendous growth in its fleet of upfitters, with companies like Adrian Steel, CASECO, Ground Effects, Knapheide, Sortimo and Leggett & Platt adding customizable cargo management solutions. Other auto industry related companies within Automotive Alley include distributors AER Manufacturing, Clore Automotive, Grupo Antolin and Midway Ford, as well as 3PL provider XPO Logistics. And more upfitters, suppliers and related companies are looking at Automotive Alley every day.

With the Kansas City Claycomo plant helping lead the way for Ford’s best year ever, Hunt Midwest is developing speculative industrial space, both below (SubTropolis) and above (HMBC) ground, to accommodate future growth companies looking for a centrally located, affordable place to do business near Ford’s largest assembly plant.

At Hunt Midwest, we’re proud to be a part of Ford’s winning Kansas City team, and we look forward to adding more players in 2016 and beyond.

Ryan Tompkins is manager of sales and leasing for Hunt Midwest. In March he will represent Hunt Midwest and Automotive Alley at the NTEA Work Truck Show. Reach Ryan at rtompkins@huntmidwest.com.

Groundhog Run - 5k Start

Planning the Children’s TLC Groundhog Run never gets old — even after 30 years

Planning the Children’s TLC Groundhog Run never gets old — even after 30 years
Connie Kamps – Director of Real Estate Operations

You might think planning a 10K run on the same weekend in the same location for more than 30 years would get monotonous—maybe even feel a little like “Groundhog Day.” But the truth is, every year I’ve been involved with the Groundhog Run since 1985 has offered a new challenge, a new insight or an opportunity to meet ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

And this year’s Groundhog Run is no exception, as an octogenarian named Donald Hughes will arrive laced up and ready to run, as he has every race weekend for 33 years straight. But this is no ordinary weekend for Mr. Hughes. It’s his birthday weekend, and for more than three decades he has made it a priority to participate in the Groundhog Run on his birthday. The run benefits the Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center in Kansas City, and by sharing his birthday with this effort, Mr. Hughes has helped raised $4.5 million for children with special needs and their families.

Last year was a thrill as well, as 27-year-old Children’s TLC alum McClain Johnson took part in the race. In the months leading up to the run, McClain, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age, walked a total of 1,000 miles and culminated his journey at the Groundhog Run. His tremendous accomplishment prompted his employer, Cosentino’s Price Chopper, to donate $1,000 to Children’s TLC in McClain’s honor.

Starting with Hunt Midwest donating SubTropolis and thousands of employee hours to host to the Groundhog Run, the corporate community in Kansas City year after year displays a remarkable and heartwarming generosity in this effort through race sponsorships and through sponsorships of corporate running teams who participate in the Groundhog Run.

Someone once asked me how many hours I have donated to the Groundhog Run since becoming involved back in 1985. The answer is “too many to count.” But I can assure you that seeing thousands of runners united in the spirit of giving back to their communities and then seeing the money raised put to work to help the lives of the kids and families at Children’s TLC makes every single hour worthwhile.

The 2016 Children’s TLC Groundhog Run will be held on Sunday, January 24th at Hunt Midwest SubTropolis.

Now is the Time to Tell Kansas City’s Ecommerce Story

Now is the Time to Tell Kansas City’s Ecommerce Story

Now is the Time to Tell Kansas City’s Ecommerce Story
Mike Bell – Vice President & General Manager, Hunt Midwest

Hunt Midwest’s SubTropolis recently caught the attention of The Wall Street Journal. The world’s largest underground business park has been making quite a few headlines lately for its success in attracting Ford upfitters to “Automotive Alley,” our branded destination for auto industry partners.

We love making headlines, so now it’s time to spread the word about SubTropolis’ push into ecommerce. FoodServiceWarehouse.com (FSW) opens a 475,000-square foot warehouse and distribution center creating a 1,100,000 SF ecommerce cluster. It’s the largest 2014 commercial build-to-suit project in the metro.

FSW cited SubTropolis’ high-speed connectivity, energy savings and ability to rapidly expand its footprint in its decision. The lease includes an option to grow to almost 800,000 square feet in four years. Go to Mike’s LinkedIn post for more…