I'd argue most of those malls ALREADY have many of those things.
With respect, you're flat out incorrect in some cases, and misguided in others.
Many malls are pushing 50-75 shops, so that's a LOT of electric and telco already present
As you can see here , the electrical consumption of your average mall runs around 9 Watts/sq ft. Even a moderate Data Center load is going to be around 75 Watts/sq ft just in terms of IT load. Once you factor in Mechanical Cooling, it's just going to go up from there. Furthermore, even if a mall had say a 10 MW electrical feed, you're obviously going to want 2 or more separate, dedicated feeds for your Data Center. You don't want to share that feed with the mall. Any disturbance on that mall's feed could impact your own. So when the maintenance guys at the mall screw up and accidentally single phase a compressor on their chiller, you don't want to have the fault on your line. Thus, any way you slice it, you're putting in your own feed(s). Figure in also, you have to think whether the local electrical utility planned for an additional several Megawatts of power in this particular section of their grid. Perhaps they had planned for maybe a 10-15% growth in the mall's load, but not quite for a sudden 5-10 MW being dropped on the circuit(s).
Malls are often near highways which is where most of the fibre got laid so it's easy to add.
Again, you're missing the point. In some cases, yes, lots of fiber trunks are laid where the freeways and highways are. This isn't always the case, but I'll go with it. You still have to get comm into your facility, and I'm continuing to say that this is going to be a little more of a hassle if you're adjacent to a busy, functioning mall.
Many malls already have basic backup generators (plus natural gas and such already ran) in place for stores, not to data center standards, but in place.
Irrelevant. Yes, some malls have cute, little natural gas generators to run their Fire/Life Safety Systems (elevators, emergency lighting, security system, etc) as required by code but a) this is not even slightly close to what you'll need to run a Data Center and b) even if it were, you'll want your own dedicated generators for your Data Center. Do you really want to run the risk of not being able to power your Data Center during a utility outage because the elevator to the Cinnabon needs to run?
These shops aren't "that big" that they need major renovation into data centers, they'r plain brick boxes right now. They are more the size of a telecom CO office. t's only now that everybody is Blade servers + SAN that it would even be practical to use the space.. again because they are SMALL enough not to be a major drain on power resources like the major centers are. I understand your point, as I work for a steel melting mill and many data centers are starting to catch up with OUR power usage.
I don't think you are getting my point. This isn't about the physical space in the building, it's about all the other things. To your point, the Blades and SAN configuration does indeed take up a smaller footprint than some of the older hardware, but it is DRAMATICALLY more energy intensive (thus my reasons for harping on things like electrical utility, generators, and cooling). A moderate Data Center with around 75,000 square feet of raised floor is probably going to draw somewhere between 5 and 10 Megawatts. I'd say that's probably very close (if not beyond) many industrial applications.
as far as security, the best security is often in plain sight. most of the abandon mall properties I see (at still used malls) are kept up on the surface pretty well. There's plenty of security already for the mall (to watch for parking lot vandals and robbers, etc)and these would not have any foot traffic to speak of.
Please tell me that you're not being serious here. If you think that lighting and being in a conspicuous area are adequate in terms of security, then it is clear that you have not ever been inside a Data Center. You specifically do NOT want your place located in an easy to find/access place. You want a dedicated physical Security team guarding your site 24/7/365, not depend on the mall cops. You're also comparing the negative elements of guys who are trying to steal DVD players and TVs from the mall's best buy with the guys that want to get in to Data Centers and steal millions of dollars of information. VERY different things.
Look, I'm not saying that these places CANNOT be made in to Data Centers, I'm just saying that it doesn't make sense considering the thousands of other, much more appropriate site choices for Data Centers. Large, empty buildings with a lot of electrical infrastructure already exist, and make much better (and less expensive) choices for putting a Data Center in. I'm basically saying that I think this whole idea is a pipe dream by the Sears people, and I don't see why anyone would choose to upfit one of their old sites versus the many, many more suitable choices that will probably cost them a lot less.