The cool thing about being in the commercial real estate space is the sense of possibility – possibility to take unused spaces and convert them into usable, viable commercial properties – if someone has the vision to turn that space into reality.

That’s exactly what’s been happening in states like Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Kentucky for the past 50 years.

In these states, there are vast expanses of old mines that were just sitting empty, unused.

Until, that is, someone had the vision to reinvent those spaces for a new commercial use.

Real estate firm Hunt Midwest in Kansas City, MO is one company that is transforming old mines into desirable commercial space. Hunt Midwest started back in the 60’s with an old limestone mine that was left empty after mining started to taper off. That mine was reinvented into SubTropolis, with six million square feet available and another eight million at the ready.

Fifty-two businesses now call SubTropolis home, and are comprised of manufacturing, technology and consumer products firms.

The US Post Office stores stamps in SubTropolis. Other companies use it to store food products like cheese and unroasted coffee. Another manufactures retail display units.

There’s a data storage company taking advantage of the constant underground environment. Heck, Ford Motors used to use the mine to store their cars.

What makes these abandoned mines ideal for some companies?

Underground mines offer a constant temperature and humidity environment – 55%-65% humidity and a steady 68-72 degrees, year-round.

There’s plenty of underground parking so there’s not a need to build more (saving on construction costs), and the environment lends itself to conservation of natural resources that can result in a savings of up to $35,000 a year for businesses, according to one SubTropolis tenant. Employees access the mines through existing entrances, and there’s existing cross-ventilation.

It’s not just businesses that benefit from the underground space. Some mines, like those in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, are available to the general public to use for storage of their RVs, vehicles, and boats.

Some even use it to store their large wine or whiskey collections! That’s my kind of storage facility.

With commercial real estate, it’s all about seeing what’s possible. It’s taking advantage of the existing environment and turning that into gold, and that’s exactly what’s happening at these defunct mines. (image: CNN Money)

What do you think about using old mines for commercial use? Is that something you would ever consider being a part of? Let me know in the Comments.