Digging Deep with Subsurface Design Projects


Adam Stodola“GBA has been an essential partner working with us during the development and expansion of our project.”
– Bill Seymour, Senior Vice President with Meritex Enterprises


Did you know GBA has been working on projects for the subsurface real estate market in Kansas City for 20-plus years? Indeed, GBA has designed many spaces for office, data center, warehouse, and light manufacturing uses.


Located 100-150 feet below the surface, 15 different underground business parks containing in excess of 25 million square feet of space have been developed in the Kansas City area, housing more than 400 businesses. All of this was made possible by unique geology, enabling the adaptive re-use of spent mines.


When mining of limestone began in the late 1800s, industrialists quarried away with little regard for the excavated space left behind. By the 1950s, however, mining practices changed to leave the space suitable for commercialization. The “room and pillar” technique of mining leaves vast amounts of space (up to 80 percent of the surface area) available in a grid-shaped pattern with ceiling heights ranging between 12-18’. Today’s result: more than 200 million square feet of subsurface space in the Kansas City area, held up by massive pillars.


Limestone is widely available and relatively inexpensive, so it is excavated and crushed for use in concrete and asphalt production and a host of other everyday uses. Many Kansas City-area buildings, roads, and highways were built using rock removed from local mines.

In February, KCTV5 featured several underground spaces during a week-long special. Meritex Enterprises, a client of GBA, was included in the special report. Meritex-Lenexa provides amenities similar to typical commercial real estate, with the added advantage of stable temperature, humidity control, and fast-track tenant finish construction. In addition, limestone is three times stronger per square inch than concrete, allowing for storage of extremely heavy items.


While the preparation of construction drawings for tenants of Meritex is on-going, GBA also maintains a master plan for future growth, including the subsurface and surface land. In 2013 we assisted Meritex-Lenexa in becoming a Certified Energy Star Facility by the U.S. EPA. And in 2014 our team designed roads and infrastructure to improve access to the underground and serve an office park to be developed on the surface.