Auto part company Knapheide operates out of SubTropolis, serving a nearby Ford plant.
Auto part company Knapheide operates out of SubTropolis, serving a nearby Ford plant. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

The largest industrial park in the world probably doesn’t look the way you might expect.

Occupying an abandoned mine 100 feet below Kansas City, Missouri, SubTropolis is host to an assortment of businesses, and still boasts room for more. It’s currently home to 52 tenants who take up almost as much floor space as in the Pentagon.

Carved from 270-million-year-old limestone deposits, businesses flocked to the cavernous work space when it opened in 1964. They were attracted to its consistent temperature (68 degrees), low rent (about $2.25 per square foot) and for its almost vault-like security.

“The walls are carved out of limestone deposits and they’re not polished to a sheen by any means, so it’s certainly a rough-hewn working environment. On the other hand, if you are renting warehouse space, you know, you’re not looking for the finest of finishes,” Bloomber Business reporter Patrick Clark says.

Clark profiled the space in a recent Bloomberg article. Tenants include the U.S. Postal Service, companies storing film, and cheese distributors.

Meanwhile, two of the more peculiar events held in SubTropolis are the 10K and 5K races that have taken place for the past 33 years.

Clark says, “I think 4,500 people were down there. Come on, wouldn’t you go for a run down there? I think it’s about the only thing that would get me to run a 10K road race.”

Though SubTropolis currently hosts 6 million square feet of businesses, Clark says there's still about 8 million square feet left to develop — that’s nearly 10 times the floor area of Kansas City’s tallest building.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal