CRE X Missouri

Hunt Midwest: Meeting the growing demand for data center space in the Midwest


A growing number of businesses can't lose access to their data for even a second. That's why the data center business is booming today.

A growing number of businesses can't lose access to their data for even a second. That's why the data center business is booming today.

And one of the more intriguing data centers is taking shape now in the heart of the Midwest. Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development earlier this year began construction on the first phase of the SubTropolis Technology Center, an underground data center located in the larger SubTropolis business center in Kansas City, Mo.

The business center -- and its new data center -- are both located underground. This seems unusual, but for a data center it makes sense. Mike Bell, general manager of industrial commercial real estate for Hunt Midwest, said that the SubTropolis Technology Center boasts a hardened limestone structure. Not much, then, will be able to damage the high-tech equipment on which data centers rely.

"Our limestone walls are six times stronger than concrete," Bell said. "This is a structure that can withstand earthquakes. We are protected from tornadoes, too. Companies are so concerned about keeping their data safe. We are in a protected area."

The new technology center has already attracted its first client. LightEdge Solutions, a cloud-computing colocation and consulting company, is the center's anchor tenant. LightEdge will open its 60,000-square-foot operation in the first quarter of 2014.

Hunt Midwest expects to attract plenty of other tech companies to the center. The first phased area of the underground center will cover about 210,000 square feet of raised floor space. Hunt Midwest has the ability to add another 1 million square feet to the center.

"The interest level in this facility is high, especially after LightEdge announced that it was building here," Bell said. "When the area is dark and undeveloped, it's hard to imagine how it will work. But when the first tenant comes in and the building starts, it's a different story."

Bell admits that most tech companies won't immediately think of operating their businesses in a center that is underground. But SubTropolis doesn't feel as if it is underground. In fact, it feels like a typical -- if high-end -- business park. Bell says that about 1,500 employees work in the business park every day.

Being underground also comes with its own benefits. The main one? SubTropolis boasts a constant temperature and humidity. It is always around 70 degrees. From a power perspective, it's cheaper to operate in SubTropolis than it is on the surface.

The entire SubTropolis business park now features 5 million square feet of usable space. Hunt Midwest can build out another 8 million square feet at the center. This large amount of available space led to Hunt Midwest's decision to enter the tech-center business.

"In today's world, everything is being saved on a disc or on a cloud server," Bell said. "Data centers have become so important because of that. There is that need for these centers, and we are seeing that growth here in Kansas City, too."