Data Centers Offer Hope for St. Louis Office Market

The thriving technology scene covering startups, incubators, investors, etc.
Several recent deals, including a new software center that Unisys opened downtown, may help St. Louis become a regional hub for computer software and data-center companies, The New York Times reports. St. Louis' lack of commercial companies actually attracts data center operators, because the city’s power grid remains from the time downtown was dominated by large warehouse and industrial companies, and has excess capacity.


http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/morn ... e_stl_rdup
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/09/reale ... .html?_r=2

Pretty Cool.
Fascinating article. For a while, I've read about the constructive reuse of the older buildings in Downtown for data centers, but it is the utilization of the pre-existing power grid, and the competitive advantages of them, that really gets me.

Long-term, this could lead to an increased utilization of the oldest buildings in Downtown, fully positioning Saint Louis as a hub for this industry, which in fact is part of a powerful array of diverse industries. With the increased acquisition and transformation of the oldest building stock, we can see these data centers being great tenants in the buildings that developers have not sought out for residential or professional office space. Buildings like the Arcade or the old Globe-Democrat Building could really fit this match, bringing in new workers and filling the buildings with servers. Best of all, the buildings would be preserved and enhanced.

Best-case scenario is that corporations begin to see StL as a developing cluster of IT companies and consider this for their future locations. Add-in the reuse of many buildings, and the stock of vacant buildings in Downtown decreases, if not with floors of people then with stacks of computers. Down the road, this decreased vacancy could lead to a series of new high-rise office construction, home to IT companies for more than just their servers. Best-case.
You'd think someone would have noticed a while ago that we have lots of space and cheap and voluminous coal-feed power. Glad to hear the ball is starting to roll.
Will try to pull some articles later, my biggest concern is the fact that St Louis still hasn't landed that big name. I believe a number of the big boys have pulled the trigger on new greenfield data center projects in NC, from Apple to Google. NC has put together a tough competitive economic development team along with an aggressive energy company in Duke Energy, who is combining with another player to become the biggest utility in the US if not mistaken.

In that context, I think a big win would be to get Wells Fargo to make a serious IT committment to St. Louis, the central location and time zone, low cost, and cheap power should be a no-bainer. Nor does their IT need to be tied to proximity to Silicone Valley. This could be the boost that downtown needs, makes a St. Louis a niche for financial data, and cements Wells Fargo Securities committment to St. Louis. That is the big win I'm looking for.
^Silicone valley or silicon valley? Two very different materials and areas: One is near LA, the other near SF. :wink:
the count wrote:
^Silicone valley or silicon valley? Two very different materials and areas: One is near LA, the other near SF. :wink:


Agree, pardon my mistake considering that I should know the difference since I now live in the Bay Area after moving from St. Louis.
the count wrote:
^Silicone valley or silicon valley? Two very different materials and areas: One is near LA, the other near SF. :wink:


Paging Dr. Freud...Dr. Freud, please call ext.....
dredger wrote:
In that context, I think a big win would be to get Wells Fargo to make a serious IT committment to St. Louis, the central location and time zone, low cost, and cheap power should be a no-bainer.


Yes. Whoever it is the actively seeks and promotes economic growth for St. Louis needs to very concretely help the IT world connect these dots...
"You can count on one hand the sites for new office facilities downtown," said Richard Ward, a development consultant and urban planner with Zimmer Real Estate Services


Umm BPV? Any number of parking garages or lots?
Did anyone read this article: Fifty deals?

http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2011/02/09/ ... enter-hub/
50 deals? Wow. I wonder how close these deals are to being reality and how many other players there are. It would seem there would have been more local news about this if we were close to landing 50 deals.
When this makes local news watch for Bill McClellan griping about the absence of Miss Hullings, Boyd's and all those good-natured, blue-collar people and how we're left with buildings filled by out-of-town technobots.
metzgda wrote:
It would seem there would have been more local news about this if we were close to landing 50 deals.


Right. Fleming throws these numbers around all the time. I think every time any company or site selection consultant tells the RCGA that it's looking around for a site and asks for a pamphlet about St. Louis, it gets counted as a "deal" that's "on the radar." It's got something to do with the RCGA's internal tracking system.
A few do work out, but most of them never come to pass, for all sorts of reasons: The company abandons the project, delays it while they seek financing, decides to stay where they are, picks some other city, etc. Until they're ready to go public, it's usually nothing to get too worked up about.

Also, how many people do these data hubs employ? I've never really been clear on that. Most of the buildings they're in don't exactly seem to be jumping with, you know, people.
stlwriterman wrote:
Right. Fleming throws these numbers around all the time. I think every time any company or site selection consultant tells the RCGA that it's looking around for a site and asks for a pamphlet about St. Louis, it gets counted as a "deal" that's "on the radar." It's got something to do with the RCGA's internal tracking system.
A few do work out, but most of them never come to pass, for all sorts of reasons: The company abandons the project, delays it while they seek financing, decides to stay where they are, picks some other city, etc. Until they're ready to go public, it's usually nothing to get too worked up about.


Yep, pretty much.

stlwriterman wrote:
Also, how many people do these data hubs employ? I've never really been clear on that. Most of the buildings they're in don't exactly seem to be jumping with, you know, people.


Very few.
shadrach wrote:
When this makes local news watch for Bill McClellan griping about the absence of Miss Hullings, Boyd's and all those good-natured, blue-collar people and how we're left with buildings filled by out-of-town technobots.


I know, and he'll be deadly serious about it.
the central scrutinizer wrote:
stlwriterman wrote:
stlwriterman wrote:
Also, how many people do these data hubs employ? I've never really been clear on that. Most of the buildings they're in don't exactly seem to be jumping with, you know, people.


Very few.


They're still paying taxes and bringing in a few employees. With this recession and the current vacancy rate Downtown, I'll take anything that generates revenue.

It's probably nothing to be ecstatic about, but it's good news.
I'm not sure scientifically...but I would bet the effect of blight is exponential...from helpign create the vitriolic attitudes of some non-City folks...to helping scare off investors...to providing further confirmation for criminals that this is a place to do business...to presenting another reason for business to leave...

A renovated Arcade building with actual leasing business (high tech buziness no less) can ONLY be a positive for Downtown...

Just as blight makes people run away (literally and figuratively), doesn't deeply attractive, viable and dense business activity make people want to join in? I think so.
Maybe this is lead up to St. Louis being picked for the Google network. :)
Overall it's probably good that there is an interest. The more old buildings are put to use the closer we get to new construction.

It also helps foster "economies of association". This is when a group of people get together and the probability is high they will interact and foster the development of other interests. In other words by being clustered tougher will cause a high probability of spawning new businesses.
zink wrote:
Maybe this is lead up to St. Louis being picked for the Google network. :)


That's who I'd sell the cow for...

Yes, by and large, small business drives job growth...but attention and interest from entreprenuers and financiers drive small business...and names with the prestige and crediblity of Google drive attention and interest...

A BPV tower with the word Google all lit up on it might help market teh St. Louis brand...It would get my attention anyway...Fenway's got a Citgo sign...Turner Field's got a Chick-Fil-A cow...what ever they call the nearly heavenly stadium in SF has a big Coke bottle...A Google building beyond center field in Busch would work for me...
Additional investment in the AT&T data center downtown.

Image

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Does this count as new construction downtown?

New 3 story backup generator? constructed. As seen behind the Contegix building, along Olive.

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Wow, interesting. This is where you need to incorporate some public art to offset that beast.
^ My thoughts exactly.