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Why Ford's suppliers are going underground (literally)

Why Ford suppliers are going underground (literally)

In the shadow of a Ford plant, auto suppliers toil 100 feet down in a former Kansas City limestone mine.

I’ve been to a lot of unusual places in my long career as a journalist, but SubTropolis in Kansas City takes the cake. It’s the world’s largest underground storage facility, 6 million square feet 80 to 150 down in a former limestone mine. The limestone is 270 million years old, but the use of these caves for climate-controlled businesses only dates to 1964.

SubTropolis, owned by the wealthy Hunt family, is like an underground city, with the major benefit in hot-summer, cold-winter Kansas City of being a steady 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. No wonder the place gets a 100 percent Energy Star rating — no heating or air conditioning necessary! The U.S. Post Office stores $6 billion in stamps down here, and LightEdge Solutions maintains a naturally cooled $58 million data center.

I’m down in SubTropolis for Automotive Alley, the newest addition. In 2011, Ford announced a $1.1 billion expansion of its Claycomo assembly plant, which makes the F-150 truck (America’s bestselling vehicle) and the Transit van. SubTropolis borders Ford’s property, so what better location for Ford suppliers?

On the surface here, Ford maintains a 29-acre logistics facility where it stages 1,800 Transits, 80 percent of which get shipped by rail from here. But a lot of them go underground, where three companies, Adrian Steel, Knapheide and Ground Effects, have only recently begun “upfitting” them for customers like Comcast, Duke Energy, Western Pest Control, Geek Squad and Halliburton.

First stop: Canada-based Ground Effects, where plant manager April Adams shows me rows of F-150s that are having bed liners sprayed in (a $475 factory option). Across the way, Transits are getting cargo spray floors, Kicker subwoofers and remote starts. The whole spraying thing gets me concerned about ventilation down here, but President and CEO Ora Reynolds and VP Mike Bell assure me that the place is naturally air conditioned through 17 openings. “We have the EPA down here,” Bell says. “Do you think they’d allow us to have bad air quality?” Go to MNN.com for more…

Ora Reynolds

KCBJ Power 100: Ora Reynolds – President & CEO, Hunt Midwest

Power 100: Ora Reynolds – President & CEO, Hunt Midwest
Kansas City Business Journal

Ora Reynolds and Hunt Midwest have been on a roll. Ford Motor Co.’s billion-dollar investment in its Kansas City Assembly Plant has also helped fill “Automotive Alley” at Hunt Midwest’s Subtropolis. Meanwhile, the company’s residential operation has benefited from housing’s bounce-back and the growing need for senior housing.

Reynolds has worked to build up her executive team after a record 2014. That should be a help to an executive who already put in huge efforts with area development organizations and (successfully) lobbying Missouri to offer incentives for data centers. Go to KCBJ.com for more…

Hunt Midwest – Homebuilding in Kansas City

Homebuilding in KC: A New Address

The area’s next big residential area is about to rise from the dirt.
Austin Alonzo – Kansas City Business Journal

Construction is set to begin next year on the first housing developments in Kansas City’s Twin Creeks watershed. Roughly 13,000 acres in Platte and Clay counties are primed to transform from farm fields to new neighborhoods.

When built out — probably two decades from now — the Twin Creeks area will be a veritable city within a city. As many as 20,000 housing units — mostly single-family homes — eventually could be built in the area, possibly housing 85,000 new residents, said Alicia Stephens, executive director of the Platte County Economic Development Council.

“It’s the next high-growth area for Kansas City,” Stephens said. “Absolutely.”

The growth of the Twin Creeks area — framed by Interstate 435 to the north, U.S. Highway 169 to the east, Missouri Highway 152 to the south and Interstate 29 to the west — has been half a century in coming. Kansas City annexed the land in 1962, but it wasn’t primed for growth until the city began a more than $40 million project to build sewers in the area in 2012.

Work on the sewers is to be completed this year. Go to KCBJ.com for more…

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…

SubTropolis is perfect for ecommerce, supply chain operations

In Kansas City, It’s the Rise of the Underground

Demand for Space Below Ground Is Increasing in Missouri; a Steady 65 Degrees
By Max Taves, November 26, 2014

It is easy to underestimate the size of the Kansas City, Mo., industrial real-estate market. That’s because a big chunk of it is hidden from sight — underground.

Occupying more than 21.8 million square feet, Kansas City’s industrial underground space—80 to 150 feet deep, in former limestone mines—is the largest in the U.S., comprising more than 7% of the metropolitan area’s total industrial area.

And demand for the space is growing, buoyed by resurgent manufacturing and expanding distribution centers seeking low-cost real estate requiring less energy to operate.

Next week, FoodServiceWarehouse.com, a restaurant-equipment supply company, will be moving into 475,000 square feet of space that sits more than 100 feet below the surface in a facility called SubTropolis, the largest underground industrial space in the U.S. Signed in May, FoodServiceWarehouse’s lease was the largest by square feet—above or below ground—in all of Kansas City last quarter and the second-largest this year, according to real-estate data firm CoStar Group Inc.

“It’s kind of what we call an underground city,” says Ora Reynolds, president of SubTropolis owner Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development. SubTropolis has 8.2 miles of paved roads, 2.1 miles of railroad tracks, more than 500 truck docks, 1,600 parking spaces and 50 million square feet of space below ground. It’s 6 million square feet of leasable space is fully occupied by 55 companies and their 1,600 employees. Go to WSJ.com for more…