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When the Globe Building opened in 1933 in Downtown St. Louis, it served as the Midwest Terminal Building for the Illinois Railroad, designed with spacious underground rail tunnels and beefy hand-poured cement floors and pillars.

Today, vast cooling units occupy the reinforced roof, and enormous fiber optic cables snake through the building. The property now draws tech businesses attracted to open, modern industrial spaces filled with natural light and lightning-fast download speeds for large amounts of data.

What was built as a distribution center for physical commodities such as hay and lumber— staples of a past era’s economy—is now a data hub located in the midst of St. Louis’ emerging innovation technology corridor.

 

Photographer: Wesley Law
GDC Integration’s modern industrial space in The Globe Building Downtown | Photographer: Wesley Law

A Part of Downtown STL History
During World War II, several floors of the Globe Building were taken over by the War Department to establish the Army Air Corps map unit, which was renamed the Aeronautical Chart Plant (ACP) and operated as the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC). The organization later became the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) and is now the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

When passenger rail service officially stopped in 1958, the post-war decrease in rail use finally ended its occupancy of the building, and it became the Globe-Democrat building in 1959. Its easy access to rail, large freight elevators and expanses of open floor space were ideal for bringing in ink, sending out newsprint and accommodating the newspaper’s gigantic printing presses until the late 1980s, when St. Louis could no longer support two daily newspapers.

Data centers emerged as the ideal use for the property in the mid-1990s, and during the dot-com boom and beyond, companies were looking for places like the Globe Building, says property manager Jeremy Salvatori.

“When the country was wired up for fiber, it followed the rail lines,” he says. “We already had the tunnels from the railroad into the basement.”

Photographer: Alyssa Moses The Globe
The Globe Building lobby design by Adrian Luchini | Photographer: Alyssa Moses

 

The building’s large, continuous floors, high floor loads, tall ceilings, passenger and freight elevators and accessibility to redundant power supplies—plus that critical feasibility of running lines through the empty shafts—made it a destination for the growing data-center industry. Datotel and Hostirian are two of the data centers and co-location services currently located at the Globe Building.

“The building understands the needs of a data-center provider,” says Datotel president David Brown. “From a technical standpoint, we have access to diverse fiber, bandwidth and connectivity, and have enough power to run our current capacity and provide ample room for growth.”

Brown named a few extra features that make it ideal, too: Weight-bearing columns and a 250-pound floor-load capacity bear the brunt of rows of cabinets and equipment while loading docks around three sides, massive elevators and covered garages support freight movement.

Crazy-Fast Internet
And about that fiber cable running through the empty elevator shafts: The Globe Building is ideal for business owners who need high-speed internet. One tenant, GDC Integration, depends on the 10-gigabit connection to provide state-of-the art reliability to their user base.

“It’s like we have our own power grid, multiple internet providers and enormous, unlimited bandwidth.,” says GDC Integration founder Gerry Claunch. “And the speed is essential for my business. We’re a small name, but we deliver the same power as a company like Microsoft or Oracle.”

It’s the fiber optics available in the Globe Building, combined with the presence of the data centers in the building, that make this type of data movement easy and fast. And for less-technical companies, simpler things are also more reliable at the Globe, which means Skype doesn’t freeze, video doesn’t skip, and the internet is always working.

Conducive to a Great Work/Play Situation—Whether You Live Downtown or Not
Datotel moved all of its employees into the Globe Building in 2010, relocating administrative employees from O’Fallon, Missouri, to the larger, scalable and more convenient downtown location.

“What serves our employees best about being in the Globe Building is location, location, location,” says Brown. “The Globe Building is literally steps away from dozens of restaurant and entertainment options. Some of our employees have even moved Downtown so the Globe Building is an easy walk from their home. The building is easily accessible, and the underground parking is convenient and safe.”

For other businesses, moving to the Globe is about being plugged in to the Downtown community. Claunch’s 29 employees also appreciate the location for its culture, and the inexpensive, in-building parking.

“I wanted to provide a nice comfortable place for people to work,” says Claunch. “We’ve been here since 2006. It’s home to us, and we’re very, very comfortable here.”

Photographer: Wesley Law
The Globe Building’s model unit shows off a historic photo of The Globe Building’s construction. | Photographer: Wesley Law

The Modern-Industrial Aesthetic
The spacious offices in the Globe Building work well for any business that needs a lot of room to operate. Businesses with bulky tools and products find the unusually wide doorways and hallways perfect for their operations. The space also allows for additional employees. Claunch recently doubled his square footage to 12,000 as he expects to grow from 29 to 60 employees. “I have every confidence I will use the remaining space on this floor,” he says. “There’s a lot of light, and I get to mold it the way I want it.”

The Globe Building between the T-REX Innovation Center and NGA headquarters
The Globe Building sits between the T-REX Innovation Center and the soon-to-be site of the NGA headquarters. | Photographer: Alyssa Moses

It’s in the (Tech) Heart of It All
For an octogenarian, the Globe Building is holding its own: With the soon-to-be NGA headquarters just down the street and the T-REX Innovation Center located just a block away, moving your business to the Globe means it’s part of the thriving Downtown Innovation Community. As millennials choose to live and work in urban settings, and St. Louis’ innovation ecosystem continues to grow, the Globe Building increasingly looks more attractive. Besides, if history is any measure, the Globe Building will continue to stand ready to meet whatever needs arise.


Big Space, Big Power, Big Fiber

The Globe Building sits in the heart of the Downtown Innovation Community in the former space of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. The building offers seven stories and 550,000 square feet of scalable and connected office space to take your business and technology needs global.

Amenities:
• Contemporary industrial aesthetic with tall ceilings and huge windows for tons of natural light
Around-the-clock secured building access.
• On-site, two-level secured underground parking garage, monitored by attendant
• Connectivity up to 10 GB per second hosting from your choice of a dozen big-name and specialty internet providers at competitive rates
• Two full-height passenger elevators and four freight elevators with capacity to 5,000 pound.
• Spaces available from 1,000 sq. ft. to 70,000  sq. ft. all on one floor.

The Globe Building is located at 710 N. Tucker Blvd. in Downtown St. Louis, one block west of T-REX. To learn more, visit globebuilding.com or call 314.241.0450.

This story was created in partnership with The Globe Building. 

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Tanya Yatzeck is a freelance writer for EQ STL, the Sam Fox School of Art at Washington University and a variety of entrepreneurial blogs, websites and publications. In 2014 she founded the Olin Business School EMBA Blog where she profiles EMBA students and fellow Alumni. She is also a Program Manager in IT at Enterprise Holdings.