Cell Tower Removal and Relocation

If you found this page while searching for “cell tower removal,” it’s likely you are in one of a few scenarios:

Scenario 1: You have received a notice of termination from the company leasing your land and they plan on removing the tower. 

Scenario 2: You own a piece of property or are thinking of acquiring a piece of property with a cell tower on it. You plan on developing the property and would like the tower removed and are curious about how much it would cost to remove the tower. 

Scenario 3: You are contemplating a new lease with a tower company and they conveniently have left out language that requires them to remove the tower at the expiration or earlier termination of the lease.

If any of these scenarios apply to you, read on for more information about removing a cell tower and how much it costs.

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    How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Tower?

    In any of these three scenarios, the cost to remove an existing tower varies depending upon what is being removed. Generally, we recommend that every lease should have a tower-removal clause which states the tower must be removed at the expiration or termination of the lease, preferably to 3’ below grade. Assuming a lease has this type of language, the cost to remove a tower will vary from $25,000 to $100,000. If the tower and the entire foundation needs to be removed, the cost can climb to $150,000 or more.

    Removing a tower is straightforward, depending upon the tower type. For lattice towers and monopole-type towers, they are typically built in sections which can be removed section by section with a crane. With guyed towers though, they can be removed section by section using a gin pole attached to the side of the tower which allows each section of the tower to be lowered down the side of the tower. Alternatively, guyed towers can be “dropped” by cutting the guy wires on one side of the tower (see this video for an example of a guy tower demolition).

    Can a Cell Tower Be Relocated?

    Not in the sense that you would take an existing tower and move that same tower elsewhere. When a tower needs to be moved to another location, a new tower is first built at the new location before the existing tower is removed. Tower companies generally don’t “reuse” towers. In some cases, a “cell on wheels” or COW is needed if the new tower won’t be standing before the old tower is removed. A COW is a temporary tower that can be transported to the site and erected quickly.

    How Much Does It Cost to Relocate a Tower?

    A new tower costs a minimum of $150,000 to build, while some taller or concealed towers can easily exceed $1,000,000. The cost to relocate a tower encompasses both the cost to build the new tower and the cost to relocate the wireless transmission equipment from the old tower to the new tower. Wireless providers generally prefer to keep the existing site on-air until the new site is available, so they may not physically remove the equipment from the site and relocate to the new tower. They may just build the new site and move some of the existing site equipment back into their inventory if the equipment is new enough. The more wireless carriers collocated on the existing tower, the higher the cost to relocate.

    My Lessee Has Threatened to Move Their Tower if I Don’t Lower the Rent. What Should I Do?

    You may have received a request to renegotiate your lease from the tower company or wireless carrier who leases your property. Oftentimes, the “lease optimization” agent will threaten that they will terminate the lease and move the tower if you don’t accept the lower rent terms. If you came across this page while trying to see how much it would cost to relocate your tower, here are some simple guidelines from our president: 

    “If your ground lease pays less than $2,500/mo., there are very few scenarios where it makes sense for the tower company to relocate your tower.”

    Even if your lease pays more, it is still unlikely that a tower company would relocate an entire tower. Think of it this way: even if they save $1,000/mo. in ground rent by moving to another property, it would still take a minimum of 12 years to recoup the cost of building the cheapest tower possible at $150,000. 

    If your lease is expiring in the next 10 years, you may want to consider whether a rent INCREASE is appropriate as opposed to renegotiating. We can help you determine how much the lease is worth going forward. 

    If your lease isn’t expiring in the next 10 years and pays less than $2,500/mo., you don’t need to do anything.

    If your lease pays more than $2,500/mo., we recommend that you contact us for a free initial discussion on whether it makes sense to consider having us evaluate whether the tower relocation is feasible. 

    Call us if you aren’t sure or if you have additional questions that we haven’t answered about tower removal, tower relocation, lease termination, or costs to construct a cell tower. Here’s our commitment to you:

    1. Your initial discussion is free.
    2. You won’t owe us anything until you sign a consulting agreement with us.
    3. We will treat your information as confidential.
    4. We won’t sell you a service unless we have a high degree of confidence that we can help you.
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