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Kansas City, Missouri



Subterranean Painting
200,000 Sqft, 12,000+ gallons, and 160ft underground!

Major painting crew leaders Cameron and Jesus tackle the ceiling.

Subtropolis — just the name gives you the chills. Billed as “the world’s largest underground business complex,” it spans 55,000,000 square feet — almost two square miles of industrial facility and storage, with miles of roadway and rail. Eight million of these square feet are marked for future development. Located near the heart of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, the creation of Subtropolis began in 1964 with the mining of 270-million-year-old limestone. These days the process is simpler; developer Hunt Midwest can build a spec “cave” in about 120 days, providing mild stable temperatures, protection from natural disaster, and a high level of security.

Deadlines, Moisture and ... Limestone Scaling?

After 35 years in the business, the team at Major Painting had thought they had seen it all, but apparently they hadn't. “This tale is about painting more than 200,000 square feet of damp limestone, underground, some covered in shotcrete [sprayed concrete or mortar], with the level of surface prep that would make a product rep stare at his shoes in disbelief.” In other words, they had no idea where to begin, and not a lot of time to do it. Sure, Kansas City won the Super Bowl, but Major Painting had no playbook for this field.

They had to get moving. “In less than two weeks, we had to deploy a handful of industrial aerial units, bring in highvolume rigs, and ready our people in process, safety and communication standards to work in this environment,” said Kyle Harter, vice president of flooring sys


Kyle Harter and Crew: Jesus, Sean, Jesus Jr. and Brian


At work painting this massive underground city.

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The finished project; Subtropolis is ready for business!
The finished project; Subtropolis is ready for business!

tems, who had to arrange for the delivery and use of nearly 9,000 gallons of architectural paint, Hilti fireproofing sealants, DTM industrial finishes and epoxy floor coatings

Oh, and prep. There were floors, roadways and other trade equipment that needed protection, and the painting conditions were, as they put it, less than desirable. “The seasonal conditions outside, coupled with the excavation of the new space and the lack of an HVAC system, caused severe moisture issues,” said Harter. “This caused disruption in the production workflow. Adaptive project management was required, and no two days were the same. It was a giant game of whack-a-mole, with our team being the mole, and the moisture being the mallet.”

Despite the daily challenges, by working closely with the general contractor and the facility owner, they completed the project on time and on budget. APC