LENEXA, Kan. -- Given Kansas' reputation for devastating tornadoes, one would assume that no matter where U.S. Central's business recovery center is located, chances are it's in a basement.
Actually, it's located in the mother of all basements.
Kansas City is home to an estimated 20 million square feet of underground office space, first developed 50 years ago as a way to utilize caverns left behind by limestone mines. There are 30 separate underground office parks in Kansas City that house more than 400 businesses, making it the nation's far and away leader in underground office and light industrial space. The city's largest underground development, SubTropolis, covers 913 acres and is owned and operated by the estate of deceased industrialist Lamar Hunt, former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football team.
Not only are the caverns safe from weather (yes, even tornadoes), but the underground location is also extremely energy efficient, maintaining a natural temperature of around 60 degrees, regardless of surface temperature. Inside, the offices look and feel just like any other office, except there are no windows.
Kansas City's metro area straddles the Kansas-Missouri state line, with U.S. Central's headquarters located in Lenexa, Kan., and the business recovery center located across the state line, in Missouri. The two states have separate power grids, which adds an extra layer of security to the otherwise local off-site facility.