Recycling on a Large Scale: Repurposing Shopping Malls into Data Centers

Like many shopping malls in the United States, Eastgate Consumer Mall in Indianapolis gradually lost tenants until it could no longer stay afloat. For years, the mall stood empty, its peeling paint and crumbling, weed-riddled parking lot becoming quite the eyesore. But in this dilapidated property, Alex Carroll saw a golden opportunity.

Recycling on a Large Scale: Repurposing Shopping Malls into Data CentersIn 2008, Carroll and Rich Banta, co-owners of Lifeline Data Centers, began the first phase of turning Eastgate Mall into a state-of-the art data center and office space. What’s more, their long-term plans to convert the old parking lot to green space offer an aesthetic and environmental improvement for the east side of Indianapolis.

Throughout the United States, developers are bringing new life to abandoned shopping malls, creating functional space.

A growing trend

Currently, 211 malls are being converted for new uses, according to The Atlantic. Just as Carroll and Banta recognized that many businesses needed to lease space for data warehousing, other developers are buying malls and leasing space to cash-strapped organizations.

In Cleveland, a struggling mall became home to 24 congregations that could not afford their own church buildings. Along with their leases, these small congregations receive 24-hour security and maintenance.

Some developers have turned old malls into mixed-use facilities. A former mall in Tennessee is now home to a Vanderbilt University Medical Center satellite location. Vanderbilt employees and patients have helped support the new businesses that moved into the rest of the vacant space.

Making improvements

Repurposing a mall isn’t as simple as buying a property and putting a “For Rent” sign in the window. Many old malls don’t have the wiring or infrastructure to support modern uses, or they need massive structural updates.

To launch Lifeline Data Centers, Carroll and Banta had to install a sophisticated fire suppression system, cooling systems, backup power resources – and, being in the Midwest, they had to ensure the structure could withstand an F5 tornado. They also wanted to provide office space for lease, which meant outfitting the space with appropriate power, lighting and wiring. While none of these modifications were cheap, the overall cost of renovating Eastgate was still less than buying land and building a new structure from scratch.

Get a first-hand look at how a rundown mall became a cutting-edge data center. Schedule a tour of Lifeline today.

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Other resources:

  • All You Need to Know About Tier Classification, read more
  • Standards for the Telecommunication Industry: TIA-942 vs. the Uptime Institute Tiers, read more
  • Why Data Centers are Necessary for Enterprise Businesses, read more
Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.