Data Centers Offer Revenue Streams For Some Stressed Office Buildings

Industrial actual property house owners and managers are beneath extra stress than ever to point out creativity and uncover new sources of income as workplace occupancy continues to underperform its pre-pandemic ranges. Few choices are off the desk, from community-oriented flex house to rooftop eating places and celebration venues. Add to this combine information facilities, that are more and more seen as a possible path to workplace constructing profitability.

There’s a rising want for digital infrastructure, pushed by near-universal web entry, cell phone subscriptions, smartphone-based purposes and even adoption of synthetic intelligence, in keeping with latest analysis. Whereas hyper scalers, over-the-top media firms and edge information facilities meet nearly all of in the present day’s demand, extra information house is required throughout all areas. The worldwide colocation information middle market is projected to develop at a five-year compound annual development price (CAGR) of 11.3% from 2021-2026, whereas the hyperscale market is anticipated to develop even quicker, at roughly a 20% CAGR.


Even with this development, demand is outpacing provide. Elements required to construct and function information facilities have been delayed and discovering ample information middle house is a problem in all areas. A big portion of the brand new provide pipeline can be preleased, with many of the new building tasks not inhabitable till late-2023 or 2024. However may the vacancies within the workplace market pose a potential resolution?

With continued stress on the workplace market to adapt, information middle conversions supply an actual alternative to make workplace house extra helpful and worthwhile, however they require particular infrastructure that poses a right away upfront value.

Information middle fundamentals decide feasibility

Notably in U.S. hubs, workplace buildings share a lot of the wanted infrastructure to make information middle conversion possible, together with uninterrupted energy provide, cooling techniques and high-speed connectivity. Location can be a important issue to make a conversion viable.


Established regional information middle hub markets akin to Northern Virginia, Dallas and the San Francisco Bay space will persist of their development trajectory regardless of escalating land and utility prices. These markets supply low danger and stability, and their enterprise ecosystems, community connectivity infrastructure and repair supplier capabilities are troublesome to copy elsewhere within the U.S., making them a extremely engaging possibility.

Workplace house situated in a longtime hub affords the very best alternative to discover conversion potentialities. There are additionally some value-add buyers who want to secondary U.S. markets, just like the Pacific Northwest and Atlanta, the place there’s much less competitors for information middle improvement, however nonetheless elevated demand.

Figuring out the best working income mannequin


With the proper location and infrastructure in place, the following important step is to find out the working income mannequin. Constructing house owners need to determine if they are going to undertake the conversion independently, invite somebody to associate with them or pursue a hybrid three way partnership.

An owner-driven conversion is usually a difficult however rewarding endeavor. Establishing the required infrastructure may value $15 million and take roughly 18 months to finish. As soon as the information middle is operational, a leasing group may help fill the house and handle the tenants, whereas the proprietor reaps all rewards. However each the time and expense of a conversion make this method dangerous.

Workplace constructing house owners may also associate with a third-party group to lease house and assume the expense of constructing and working the information middle. Beneath this mannequin, the proprietor receives lease and doubtlessly a portion of generated income, just like how a landlord would possibly obtain a proportion of gross sales if a restaurant working of their constructing exceeds sure targets. One of these association might be mutually useful, because the proprietor advantages from regular lease funds, whereas the third-party group can function in a strategic location. It is very important negotiate the phrases of the settlement fastidiously to make sure a good and worthwhile partnership for each events.


The third mannequin is a hybrid three way partnership, the place the proprietor of the constructing and the third-party group collaborate to construct and function the information middle. On this mannequin, the proprietor contributes some portion of the capital expenditure required for building and the income stream is negotiated between each events. For instance, if the proprietor invested $8 million of the estimated $15 million to make the required infrastructure enhancements for the challenge, they may request to obtain half of the income generated by the information middle all through its life cycle. This hybrid mannequin gives a stability between different choices, because it allows the proprietor to share within the income generated by the information middle whereas additionally mitigating among the monetary danger for the third-party group.

Analyzing different prices

It is necessary to find out how a lot workplace house will likely be allotted to the information middle after conducting a feasibility examine and analyzing the prices and time required for conversion. Elements akin to cabling, switching, engineering, and energy necessities, that are important in information facilities, should even be considered. Moreover, there’s a heating, air flow, and air-con facet to think about since ample cooling is crucial, and integration with a technological associate is required to attach the market with the middle’s capabilities.

Total, changing vacant workplace areas into information facilities affords property house owners the potential to generate further earnings, since information middle operators are sometimes prepared to pay a premium for the specialised infrastructure and placement supplied by workplace buildings. Whereas it is probably not a great resolution for each underutilized workplace, information facilities are amongst many rising revenue-generating alternatives for buildings that can’t depend on long-term workplace leases.


Back To Top