Veteran Triangle cell-tower developers have formed a new venture to build compact cell towers in dense urban areas with $80.85 million in backing.
Eco-Site, based in Chapel Hill, will buy and mitigate brownfields and blighted areas as sites for cell towers that can be less than half the size of conventional wireless towers.
Eco-Site includes three former executives from Cary-based SpectraSite, which was acquired by a competitor in 2005. Eco-Site will also work with Cherokee Partners, a Raleigh company that specializes in cleaning up polluted sites.
The venture was announced Friday by the lead funder, MSouth Equity Partners, in Atlanta. The first phase of funding is $10.6 million, giving MSouth an ownership stake in Eco-Site and three of five slots on Eco-Site's board.
"This is all about increasing capacity for 4G and LTE," said Eco-Site co-founder and CEO Dale Carey. "There's a real green element to what we're doing: We're going to use natural gas generators and many of these sites will be esthetically enhanced with landscaping."
Carey estimates the company will develop 500 to 1,000 sites in congested areas that will provide much-needed data capacity for wireless carriers whose customers are increasingly switching to smart phones and tablets. He said there are several hundred thousand potential properties that could host cell sites on the East Coast but are currently unsuitable for development because they are contaminated, contain storage tanks or house former dry cleaners or gas stations.
Eco-Site has five employees and plans to add 10 next year, Carey said. The employees will specialize in brownfield remediation, construction and project management, and sales and administration.
Other former SpectraSite execs at Eco-Site are chief operating officer Robert Glosson, and Richard Stern, the general counsel.