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As reliance on digital technology increases, investor demand for data centers rises

Investors are taking note with new entrants to the space while lack of product pushes the sector to emerging markets


  As our dependence on digital technology at work and at home continues to rise, there is a sector of the commercial real estate industry that is benefitting – data centers. According to Technavio’s latest market report, the data center market is estimated to grow by $615.96 billion from 2021 to 2026, which equates to a compounded annual growth rate of 21.98%.

This growth, 35% of which is located in North America, has caught the eyes of investors and lenders that have historically not been drawn to the space, which has resulted in a flurry of new entrants over the past year, including life companies and banks. JLL Capital Markets is currently in the market with multiple joint venture data center opportunities and remains very active in the data center debt placement assignments for new construction, transitional and stabilized assets.

“There are limited opportunities to play in the data center sector as the sheer number of transactions is relatively small compared to other assets classes,” said Carl Beardsley, Managing Director and National Data Centers Leader, JLL Capital Markets. “Data centers provide investors and lenders with an alternative asset class that is relatively unimpacted by economic uncertainty. End user demand continues to exceed supply, which has created a very competitive environment for space and power. We are fielding many inquiries from capital providers and investors to find ways to either initiate or increase their market share.”  

Considered an alternative property type, the data center sector comprises only 1.3% of the overall commercial real estate industry, which equates to about 85 million square feet nationally. Despite market volatility, the data center industry is exceptionally competitive given the smaller pool of transactions to bid upon and the lack of product versus demand in the market. According to Real Capital Analytics, the sector has averaged $8.3 billion of volume annually over the last two years (2021 – 2022) compared to an average of $3.3 billion in the three-year time period prior (2018 – 2020) with a growth rate of 250%.

The M&A sector of data centers has been on an upward trajectory since 2015, with 2021 and 2022 volume 2.5x greater from a then record setting 2017.

Demand for space is soaring as the world’s data needs continue to grow through increased consumption of apps, gaming services, streaming services, video calls and more. As such, the market is unable to keep pace with the deliveries and that, coupled with power constraints in particular markets, have pushed operators and investors to emerging markets such as Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Reno, Nashville and Columbus.

As we look towards 2023 and beyond, there is ample runway for additional development in the sector as well as room for investors to place their bets on this resilient property type. The challenges the sector will have to focus on for long-term growth will be how to tackle net zero goals given the heavy energy usage at properties and the looming supply chain and power availability issues to complete new projects or projects under development currently.

JLL Capital Markets is a full-service global provider of capital solutions for real estate investors and occupiers. The firm’s in-depth local market and global investor knowledge delivers the best-in-class solutions for clients — whether investment sales advisory, debt placement, equity placement or a recapitalization. The firm has more than 3,700 Capital Markets specialists worldwide with offices in nearly 50 countries.

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About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $20.9 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 103,000 as of December 31, 2022. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit

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