Ex-nuclear weapons site owner: ‘Either it creeps you out or you love it’

This photograph taken in 1997 shows one of the two entrances to T building on the grounds of Mound Lab in Miamisburg. The building, five stories underground (the newer building on the left is about five stories), is where Monsanto Chemical developed triggering device for the atomic bomb during World War II. This entrance is at the top of the secret installations that was built by carving out the earth on the other side of this hill, building the building and then packing the dirt back around it. FILE PHOTO
Caption
This photograph taken in 1997 shows one of the two entrances to T building on the grounds of Mound Lab in Miamisburg. The building, five stories underground (the newer building on the left is about five stories), is where Monsanto Chemical developed triggering device for the atomic bomb during World War II. This entrance is at the top of the secret installations that was built by carving out the earth on the other side of this hill, building the building and then packing the dirt back around it. FILE PHOTO

A business with a name of Patriot has bought a heavily-fortified former defense facility that its new owner says is designed to withstand a ”2,000-pound bomb direct hit.”

So renovating the building to Scott Thomae’s liking for his communications technology company to bring as many as 20 jobs to Mound Business Park and to sublease the remaining two-thirds of the 122,000 square feet may take some time — up to two years.

“Being as elaborate as it is – it’s going to take a while – probably even to get plans to paper,” said Thomae, president of Patriot Communications, of the underground concrete building where nuclear weapons materials were processed during the Cold War.

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“And then the actually renovation is going to take us some time and considerable capital,” he added.

Mound and Patriot officials said the deal closed in late October on a transaction that was initially set to be wrapped up by Sept. 1. But “it took quite a while to close,” Thomae said.

Mound Development Corp. President Eric Cluxton said he is “very happy to have Scott and his team” at the 306-acre business park, which has about 15 tenants that employ nearly 300.

The T building is a two-story underground site with each floor totaling 66,000 square feet of space, Cluxton said.

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The property was purchased for $75,000, according to the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office.

“We’re excited about it,” he added. “It’s going to take us some time. It’s an enormous space. But I do think the Mound left it to us in pretty good shape.”

Known as the T Building at the Mound Advanced Technology Center, the site “effectually….had been mothballed in excess of 25 years,” Thomae added. “It had been mothballed well. But that is an elaborate space.”

The 4.26-acre site was constructed in the 1940s with “reinforced concrete construction with a 15-foot thick roof, 16-foot thick walls, and built on an eight-foot thick slab,” according to the Library of Congress website.

Those type of constructed protections are among the building’s unique features, Thomae said.

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“One of the really unique things about the space is one, it is the most secure space outside of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base….we’ve got six sets of blast doors,” he said.

“Two, it is a constant 63 to 64 degrees year round. No heat, no air (conditioning) required. It just stays that temperature based on geothermal principles,” Thomae added. “So my hope is that we’ll find two other entities that are looking for – I think the temperature and the security thing are critical to that space.

The T Building had particular significance, but not because of how it was constructed, federal records show. It was because it “held the top priority of the 17 buildings being constructed at the Mound complex, requiring several months to work after completion of construction to be ready for operation,” according to the Library of Congress website. “This work would entail equipping the rooms for the hazardous process of polonium-210 production.”

Thomae said the building is “the kind of space that really seems to separate people into two halves.

“Either it creeps you out or you love it,” he said. “And I just happen to be one of the people that loved it. And I see lot of potential and the potential for a lot of growth.”

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