Saturday, January 29, 2000

Hotel for Internet services


Telecom companies to lease space

BY MIKE BOYER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There's a new hotel planned downtown. However, it's not for tourists — it's for telecommunications companies.

        Developer Al Neyer Inc. has acquired the vacant David Shoe building at Third and Plum streets for $1.3 million from Barbara Weisenberg.

        Instead of redeveloping the five-story building for either residential or office use, Neyer envisions the structure as a kind of “telecom hotel” housing network facilities and co-location space for companies providing Internet and data communications services.

        Neyer has a letter of intent from its first tenant, COLO.com, a San Francisco-based company offering access to multiple carriers and access providers as well as companies creating their own networks.

FIBER OPTICS KEY COMPONENT
  Fiber optics — hair-thin strands of glass — dominate the telecommunications industry today.
  A single strand of fiber can provide enough capacity to transmit the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from New York to California, according to the National Academy of Engineering.
  In 1980, the first fiber-optic systems could transmit 45 megabits per second. Today's systems can handle 1 trillion bits of information per second.
  The glass fibers form the center of a fiber-optic cable. Each glass fiber has an outer layer (called the cladding) that reflects signals back into the core to prevent signal loss.
  Fiber is a key component, the national engineering group says, in the Internet revolution.
  The three main uses of fiber optics:
  • Computer networks.
  • Long-distance phone systems.
  • Cable TV.
  Experts say 90 percent of all long-distance telephone calls are now carried by fiber optics.
        COLO.com, which plans to lease about 30,000 square feet in the Third and Plum building, is developing what it calls a Neutral Central Office for deploying communications networks.

        COLO.com, which is planning 40 such sites in the country, provides office space and technical services to Internet service providers, applications service providers and other network operators.

        It will maintain a staff of 20 or 30 at each site to monitor the banks of switches, routers and other computer equipment, said John Neyer, director of marketing for the family-owned development company.

        “This is a real strong location for that type of use,” he said.

        One reason is that five different fiber-optic cables, vital for broadband communications, pass down either

        Plum or Third streets. Broadband is industry terminology for the confluence of voice, data and Internet communications moving at light-speed along the same fiber-optic cable.

        The fiber cable providers are Cincinnati Bell, MCI WorldCom, Level Three, Time Warner and Intermedia Communications, said Jeff Carey, broker for Cincinnati Commercial Realtors, which arranged COLO.com's 10-year lease.

        While all buildings in downtown Cincinnati have access to fiber-optic cable, the David Shoe building has several other ingredients that make it ideal as a broadband switching center, Mr. Carey said.

        Besides fiber cable access, the building, built in the 1920s, has 14-foot ceilings for computer equipment and to carry cable runs, and concrete floors that can support large racks of computers and switches.

        The 126,000-square-foot building also has room to install backup diesel generators and access to two separate power grids from Cincinnati Gas and Electric for backup power.

        Jim Neyer, vice president of real estate development, said such facilities, typically located in former industrial buildings, have sprung up in a number of cities as companies rush to develop broadband networks to transmit voice, video and data.

        Neyer thinks its project is the first of its type in Cincinnati.

        The building, which has been vacant for several years, will require extensive renovation, including new windows and mechanical systems. Neyer also plans to restore the building's brick exterior with white trim. “This is really an entry point to the city, so we want to do something that's positive for Cincinnati,” said Rick Kimbler, Neyer's development director.

        Jim Neyer estimated that renovation, to start in the spring, will cost about $8 million.

        The company is also exploring the possibility of adding one or more floors on top of the existing five floors.

        Engineering studies to determine whether the structure will support the additional load will take another week or two, said David Neyer, Neyer president.

        Another attraction of the site is that it sits across from the open north end zone of the Paul Brown Stadium. The Neyer company anticipates marketing the signage rights above the building.

       



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