Data Center Development, Operation and Financing: Special Concerns for Real Estate Counsel

Addressing Environmental Controls and Power, Connectivity, Access and Security Requirements; Service and Licensing Agreements

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, July 13, 2017
Recorded event now available

This CLE webinar will acquaint real estate counsel with the issues associated with the development, operation and financing of data centers. The panel will discuss features that make data centers unique—including power usage, connectivity, temperature and humidity controls, and security—as well as solutions to the leasing challenges unique to data centers.


Data centers have been developed (or existing buildings converted) so rapidly in recent years that they have emerged as a new real estate product type. But, there are physical features and operational issues unique to data centers which counsel and their developer clients must address before proceeding with a data center project.

Data centers must be able to supply an uninterrupted source of power, and must also meet certain specifications as to temperature and humidity controls, connectivity, wiring, build-out and security. As a result they are significantly more expensive to build and maintain than standard offices or industrial facilities. Data centers house systems which may be critical to functioning of the businesses they serve, so liability for service interruption must be addressed, and related insurance obtained.

The operative document under which a company occupies part of a data center is often not a lease but is instead a service agreement or a license to use certain facilities within a designated space. As a result data centers present unique challenges for underwriters looking to finance data center projects.

Listen as our authoritative panel discusses issues associated with the development, operation and financing of data centers and outlines approaches to address the issues that enhance property value and limit liability for the owner/operator.


  1. Types of facilities - closet, office, repurposed, new construction
  2. Unique features of data center
    1. Power—significant, uniterrupted
    2. Environmental controls—temperature, humidity
    3. Connectivity—fiber access, multiple carriers
    4. Access/security
    5. Physical intergrity—ability to withstand weather events, natural disasters
  3. Regulatory issues associated with data center development
  4. Leasing Issues
  5. Financing Issues


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the unique attributes of data centers, and how do they effect development costs?
  • How does the critical nature of data and IT services impact the potential liability of the operator as landlord?
  • How do licenses and service agreements used in data centers differ from leases?
  • Why is financing a data center more difficult than more conventional property types?


Michael D. Rechtin, Jr., Partner
Baker McKenzie, Chicago

Mr. Rechtin's practice has a focus on data center, headquarters, office, industrial and retail leasing. He also handles data center transactions in general, build-to-suit transactions, acquisitions, dispositions, financings, joint ventures and development. With more than 20 years of real estate law experience, Mr. Rechtin has represented life insurance companies both locally and nationally, Fortune 500 companies, pension funds and pension fund advisors, investment advisory groups, commercial developers, real estate entrepreneurs, REITs and professional services firms.

Brian Zurawski, Esq.
Baker McKenzie, Chicago

Mr. Zurawski practices in the firm’s Banking, Finance, Major Projects & Real Estate Practice Group He advises on real estate and finance matters, particularly with date center leasing. Mr. Zurawski also has experience advising on matters relating to the acquisition, development, operation and sale of power projects.


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