A Cold Grey Shell is most often defined through understanding the two main descriptor words before the word shell:
Cold: typically means the space does not have HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) available or installed in the space; and hence, the space cannot be heated (or cooled) prior to the HVAC being installed. In this instance, an HVAC unit or units will need to be installed or tied into in order to bring heating, ventilation and air conditioning to the space.
Grey: typically means the space has no other improvements to it such as a drop ceiling grid or drywall ceiling, lighting, flooring, or any other standard improvements such as a restroom, built out offices, etc. The word grey speaks to the fact the floor and any exterior walls are often the color grey because of the untreated concrete floor or walls.
A cold grey shell is essentially a space with no HVAC or finishes of any real substance.FREE EVALUATION
In comparison, a Warm Vanilla Shell is close to the opposite of a Cold Grey Shell, as defined by:
Warm: the space does have an HVAC system connected and functional, or at least is attached to the premises and ready to be hooked up. Warm means the space can be heated and / or cooled.
Vanilla: typically refers to the space having finished exterior walls with drywall, a drop-grid ceiling or drywall ceiling with lighting, HVAC that is distributed and often also includes some level of additional build out such as a finished restroom(s) with running water, sewer, plumbing, fixtures, etc. The space may also contain some level of additional buildout such as any amount of offices or additional walls and interior rooms.
Many retail and office building landlords will prepare a vacant space in a Warm Vanilla Shell delivery so that certain tenants might be able to immediately move in with very minor adjustments to the space or with the just the installation of their tenant specific furniture, fixtures and equipment.
However, there are some tenants who prefer a Cold Gray Shell vs. a Warm Vanilla Shell if they have unique requirements for their mechanical systems. A build out would require them to replace some of the improvements a landlord may perform in a Warm Vanilla Shell. Meaning, if the landlord spends money on a specific ceiling grid, lights and restroom location but the tenant wants something different, there can be a waste of a healthy amount of money. That money would have been better slated for the tenant to use on exact items and finishes they wanted vs. what the landlord already put into the space.