But a building doesn't have to be near a major intersection to become a valuable carrier hotel. The demand is growing in nearly every city, especially larger ones. "It's gotten to be a hot product," says Dean Macfarlan, CEO of Dallas' Macfarlan Real Estate Services, who is in the process of converting a former supermarket chain warehouse just west of downtown Houston into a carrier hotel. "It will expand from the NFL cities."

Eventually, these carrier hotel chains could spread out across the land, just like Hyatts and Super 8s. "Every community ultimately needs connectivity," says Pastreich. "Otherwise it'll be the city by the river that got left behind."

The white elephants of inner-city America have become the stars of commercial real estate. From Hollywood to Boston, high-tech developers are taking advantage of the sturdy construction of former factories, department stores, banks, and corporate headquarters to house the computers and switching equipment that push phone calls, e-mail messages, and online stock purchases around the corner and coast to coast. Here are a few notables:

11 N. Pearl St.: The former headquarters of Albany's Home Savings Bank, mostly vacant for several years, is now a successful carrier hotel. The building's 21-story height makes it a perfect locationfor
radio antennas as well.

Los Angeles
600 W. Seventh St.: The enormous former Robinson's department store building in downtown L.A. had been shuttered for several years until developers invested $30 million to increase the available electricity and to reinforce it against earthquakes. Good move. The 400,000-square-foot building was completely leased as a carrier hotel months before the rehab was even finished.

Market and Halsey streets: The former Bamberger's department store, later Macy's, received its last customers in 1992. Now, racks of computers line the floors where racks of men's suits once stood. A few blocks away, the former Krementz & Co. building, once home to the city's most-famous jeweler, will also soon be converted into a carrier hotel.