Since opening in 1984, Ross Tower, a Dallas high-rise multi-tenant commercial office building, has never stopped seeking to improve its tenant experience. In fact, the management team’s dedication to enhancing building and tenant services and implementing the latest technology is the driving force behind several long-term tenant relationships.
Owners of the 45-story, 1.2 million square foot, Class A Office building that houses numerous law firms, government offices and the Dallas Regional Chamber, among others, have always supported renovations to drive tenant occupancy and improved experience. However, when HPI acquired the building in December 2015, its occupancy hovered around 50 percent. To increase tenancy, the new ownership made a substantial capital and operational commitment towards significant renovations including a drive through porte-cochere with valet parking, Starbucks, fireplaces, and more. HPI also invested in meeting tenants’ increasing demands for fast and reliable fiber broadband connectivity.
“We made these critical and strategic investments not only to improve the physical structure of the building, but to upgrade the technology to offer the highest level of advanced connectivity for our tenants,” said Connie Pruett, HPI Commercial Real Estate and Ross Tower General Manager. “Today, tenants require state-of-the-art technology. They want fast, reliable and readily available bandwidth that offers turnkey accessibility.”
To deliver on these technological requirements, HPI partnered with ExteNet Systems, which provides neutral-host fiber and wireless communications infrastructure and managed services for real estate owners across the United States. ExteNet installed a much-needed fiber backbone and a meet-me room (MMR) for all carriers that service Ross Tower and its tenants by providing near on-demand Internet connectivity.
“When the new owners came in, we wanted to make sure any kind of upgrades would be simple and streamlined,” HPI Construction Manager Scott Childs said. “When we found [ExteNet], we knew this partnership would save both our tenants and us time, money and management resources. By implementing a common fiber backbone for our building and our tenants, we knew we could leapfrog other buildings in our connectivity capabilities.”
We made these critical and strategic investments not only to improve the physical structure of the building, but to upgrade the technology to offer the highest level of advanced connectivity for our tenants
“Given the rapidly changing technology environment we live in, connectivity and capacity are table-stakes amenity for our tenants,” Pruett said.
Additionally, ExteNet’s position as the single point of contact for all communication needs provided a significant advantage for HPI. Previously, Pruett managed all contracts for communications services including insurance, carriers, tenants’ information technology departments (IT), cable installation companies or repair coordination and even the tenants. But with ExteNet, Pruett can depend upon a single provider for these activities and focus on providing the highest level of service and support to Ross Towers’ tenants.
“ExteNet manages the full implementation from start to finish, including contract negotiations, fiber design and installation alongside tasks like ensuring insurance is current,” Pruett said. “From an owner’s perspective, this saves me an inordinate amount of time, and from a tenant perspective, they get connected quicker, save installation cost and have onsite support to guide them through the process. ExteNet brings great value to the building.”
Another administrative-related task that ExteNet manages for Ross Tower is the building’s new closed riser system. ExteNet controls and monitors access to the building’s MMR and riser 24/7/365 with its Network Operating Center so HPI knows it’s secure and no one is entering the MMR or riser closet performing unauthorized work.
Between the physical renovations and ExteNet’s fiber backbone installation, Ross Tower has seen its occupancy rate increase to 70 percent. The installation has not just been beneficial for the building’s bottom line, but for its tenants as well.
For example, ExteNet ensured law firm Thompson & Horton was up-and-running quickly after moving floors within Ross Tower in 2017. During the move, Stacey Ransleben, the firm’s Director of Office Operations, was working with an IT group to manage both the cabling and numerous service providers. However, a lack of communication and coordination between all parties, meant that a week before the move, nothing was working. Ransleben was informed that getting phones and computers online would take three weeks. That was when Ransleben was made aware of ExteNet’s new service offering and capabilities. She contacted ExteNet and it reacted immediately.
“I didn’t have three weeks. People were moving into the office in a week,” Ransleben said. “ExteNet showed up within an hour, got everyone on my team organized and coordinated, and ensured everything was plugged in and working correctly in less than 24 hours. It was so nice to have a company in the building that could come down here and fix what was going on.”
For Ransleben and the Thompson & Horton firm, ExteNet has been more than a one-time problem solver. Ransleben said that ExteNet is her go-to company whenever she has a technology issue because of its great work during the initial set up. Meanwhile, with its contract with another telecom company coming to an end, Ransleben has expressed interest in ExteNet’s capabilities.
“I would be interested in other buildings that have ExteNet or a company like ExteNet in them when we’re looking to move buildings,” Ransleben said. “I’m doing an expansion in Houston, and it’s always a variable about whether or not we move that office. If I’m looking at two buildings and they are relatively even, and one has a provider like ExteNet, I’d lean towards (that one). The technical updates in the building have made things much better and working with ExteNet has made our lives easier as our needs continue to evolve.”
ExteNet’s fiber backbone also has made Ross Tower more attractive to prospective tenants. When a business is looking for a building to lease space, it’s most likely going to select somewhere it knows its connectivity needs can be accommodated. With ExteNet’s help, Ross Tower has become that preferred building.
“ExteNet has been a great partner for us and their services have been a critical component in how we market the building. Our in-building network and services help us differentiate ourselves in a competitive real estate market,” said Hunter Lee, HPI Office Project Partner. “We’ve invested $25 million in capital improvement funds to the project, and with ExteNet’s offering, we are now confident the Ross Tower’s technology is up to date and keeping up with the demands of an evolving workforce. It was logical for us to align ourselves with ExteNet, who we view as the best in class in what it does.”
Some of the compelling points, besides the fiber backbone, that the ExteNet relationship provides to Ross Towers include:
• Every tenant has its own dedicated fiber to the carrier-neutral MMR and within 10 feet of all the carriers in the building
• The tenants can keep their server equipment in a shared tenant micro datacenter which is secure, environmentally controlled, professionally NOC monitored and backed up with a generator, saving the tenants improvement dollars
• Tenants can bring in their own carrier and access to multiple service providers, as choice is valuable to tenants
• Speed to market, given ExteNet’s Infrastructure, which can facilitate the service delivery of internet in hours not months
“Previously, there were times where we have had 30 days to get a tenant up and running,” Lee said. “Where we have seen ExteNet shine in our building specifically is getting those people that need to get going quickly in business very fast.”
Tenants like to hear that they’ll be able to have connectivity in less than a month, and in some cases within a day, but they also want to know it will work consistently, and with ExteNet, Lee and his team have been able to offer Ross Tower tenants network reliability and capacity in addition to speed.
“Everyone has a story of, ‘We lost connectivity and our phones are down, so we had to send everybody home,’ right?” Lee said. “With ExteNet, we’re confident that is not going to happen in our building because of the technology, infrastructure and systems we put in place. That is really important.”
While ExteNet’s fiber backbone has built the foundation for Ross Tower from an ownership, marketing, leasing and tenant satisfaction standpoint, ExteNet is focused on how it can satisfy the building’s tenants’ connectivity demands today and into the future. Technology applications and ubiquitous mobile coverage demands are driving an unprecedented opex/capex burden and complexity for Building Owners, Tenants and Carriers. The last 1000 yards of the entire network topology is the riser in the building, which is where these three stakeholders converge to serve the tenant at “The Edge.”
ExteNet’s goal is to design, install and operate a state-of-the-art carrier neutral distribution network and MMR in the building for the Owners and Managers, a fiber backbone that will serve as the foundation for future technology and mobile applications for the future which include 5G, IoT and Private LTE
By implementing a common fiber backbone for our building and our tenants, we knew we could leapfrog other buildings in our connectivity capabilities.
“In looking ahead at the biggest technological changes anticipated in the next five years with any certainty is that the current physical in-building copper infrastructure impedes the ability, along with the timely and cost-effective delivery, of Communications services. Therefore, fiber and wireless infrastructure will be critical to meet the tenant’s expectations and demands. The battleground in the communications industry is happening in your building – “THE Edge.” Technology services and applications are moving closer to the “point of use” – the tenants – to increase speed-to-market while lowering latency and access cost,” says Ron Scott, SVP of Strategic Relations at ExteNet Systems.
ExteNet serves both the building owner and the building tenants. The building owner’s success depends on a satisfied tenant with ubiquitous communication service being a critical success factor. As a result, ExteNet’s singular focus is on substantially accelerating speed to market of broadband services for the tenants to simplify service delivery and monetize the processes around connectivity implementation for building owners while building the high-capacity fiber backbone to support the new Digital economic and technological boom taking place in their buildings.