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Rock City Business Complex
30 Apr 2014
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This six million square foot underground limestone quarry, owned by the Village of Valmeyer, is used primarily for warehousing and industrial storage. Before its acquisition by Valmeyer’s government, the space rotated through a variety of uses; after its original stint as a functional quarry owned by Columbia Quarry Company, the cave system was used for growing mushrooms through the 1980s, and as a fallout shelter during the Cold War. In 2007, Valmeyer formed a partnership with Admiral Parkway Development and the quarry underwent a $10 million renovation, partially funded by over $3.5 million in federal and state grants. Although the quarry walls retain much of their natural look, the limestone ceilings have been reinforced with thousands of 8-foot support bolts, and loading docks have been embedded in the caves’ sides to allow easy truck access.

The facility’s largest storage space belongs to the National Archives and Records Administration; at full capacity, the 475,000 square foot space can house over two million cubic feet of government agency and military service records. Aside from NARA records, Rock City’s storage primarily houses food products on behalf of Gateway Cold Storage and Blue Line Foodservice Distribution. Gateway Cold Storage operates 200,000 square feet of refrigerated storage, ranging from the caves’ natural 52 degrees to 15 degrees below zero in order to accommodate a variety of products. At any given time, the contents of the Rock City facility include processed frozen foods such as Little Caesars pizzas to bulk ingredients such as hops owned by the local Anheuser-Busch Corporation and one million pound shipments of Oklahoma peanuts.  

From the beginning of its development, Rock City has been seen as crucial to the revitalization of Valmeyer’s economy, especially in the wake of the 1993 Great Flood that devastated the community. In 2002, Rock City was predicted to create 60 full-time positions within two years of its opening, a significant number of jobs for a town with a population of around 700 at the time. Within the same timeframe, Rock City was anticipated to become Valmeyer’s second-largest employer, and today, it is the workplace of approximately 150 local employees. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley describes Rock City’s public-private partnership as “a win for the entire rural community” through its creation of jobs and stimulation of the local economy. With five million square feet of storage space still unoccupied, Rock City has the potential to have an even larger economic impact on the town. Rock City places Valmeyer, a small, rural town, at the center of the metro-east’s foodways; food products originating from Rock City are distributed to grocery stores, restaurants, and manufacturers throughout the region.  

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