Two data cen­ters pro­posed for Hen­rico

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - BUSI­NESS RTD - BY JOHN REID BLACK­WELL jblack­well@times­dis­patch.com (804) 775-8123

One fa­cil­ity could span 2.5 mil­lion square feet in White Oak tech park

Data cen­ters could be­come a big­ger part of Hen­rico County’s busi­ness land­scape.

One cen­ter is planned for the White Oak Tech­nol­ogy Park in east­ern Hen­rico and could cover 2.5 mil­lion square feet across four build­ings.

An­other op­er­a­tor — Peak 10— wants to build a 72,500-square-foot data cen­ter off Villa Park Drive in north­ern Hen­rico. Peak 10 al­ready op­er­ates a 37,000-square-foot data cen­ter on Park Cen­tral Drive, about 2.5 miles away.

The Hen­rico Plan­ning Com- mis­sion on Thurs­day ap­proved a plan of devel­op­ment for the White Oak data cen­ter, which is re­ferred to in plan­ning doc­u­ments only by the code name “Project Echo.”

The com­mis­sion is slated to con­sider a plan of devel­op­ment for the Peak 10 pro­posal at Sept. 27 its meet­ing.

Data cen­ters store and process vast amounts of dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion.

The plan­ning doc­u­ments do not in­di­cate who the user of the fa­cil­ity would be for Project Echo. The de­vel­oper is listed as Scout Devel­op­ment LLC and the project en­gi­neer is North­ern Vir­ginia-based Christo­pher Con­sul­tants.

Hen­rico’s Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity filed the ap­pli­ca­tion for Project Echo last month. Gary McLaren, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec- tor of the Hen­rico Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, said Thurs­day that he is not at lib­erty to dis­cuss de­tails of the project.

The data cen­ter would be built on a 328-acre site near Tech­nol­ogy Boule­vard and Por­tugee Road, ac­cord­ing to the plan­ning doc­u­ments.

It would be built in phases, with the first phase be­ing a 1 mil­lion-square-foot data cen­ter. Fu­ture phases would in­clude three build­ings to­tal­ing 1.5 mil­lion square feet.

The oc­cu­pant would have 100 em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors in the first phase and about 240 at full build out, a plan­ning staff mem­ber said dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion of the project’s plans.

The de­vel­oper also sought a spe­cial ex­cep­tion au­tho­riz­ing the build­ings up to 100 feet in height, dou­ble a 50-foot zon­ing limit.

Two nearby res­i­dents op­posed grant­ing an ex­emp­tion to al­low the build­ing heights.

White Oak Tech­nol­ogy Park is home to an­other large data cen­ter, a 1.3 mil­lion-square-foot cen­ter op­er­ated by QTS, which ac­quired the for­mer Qi­monda com­puter chip plant in 2010 and turned it into a data cen­ter.

Hen­rico County has taken steps this year to at­tract other data cen­ters by dra­mat­i­cally re­duc­ing its tax rate on com­put­ers and equip­ment re­lated to data cen­ters.

In April, the Board of Su­per­vi­sors cut the tax rate by 87 per­cent — from $3.50 per $100 of as­sessed value to just 40 cents per $100. The new rate went into ef­fect July 1.

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