Data center developments are cropping up all across Northern Virginia. But there’s still plenty of development action in the heart of Data Center Alley, the historic epicenter for cloud infrastructure in Ashburn.
Plans have been filed with Loudoun County for a $360 million data center project in the heart of Data Center Alley, situated at the most connected point on the Internet. The 18-acre site of the Beaumeade Circle project is several hundred yards from a cluster of data center buildings operated by Equinix, which is the region’s primary network intersection. The proximity to the original Equinix campus has made the neighborhood the hottest real estate in Loudoun County, fetching premium prices in several recent deals.
The Beaumeade Circle project is being developed by an affiliate of Oppidan Investment Company, a real estate developer that has worked closely with Amazon Web Services (AWS) on data center projects in Northern Virginia and Silicon Valley. Oppidan acquired the property in June, shortly after the site received a zoning change that cleared the way for data center development. The project has been given “fast track” status by Loudoun County, which includes expedited review of permits and approvals.
Steadily Provisioning More Capacity to Grow
No one will be surprised if AWS turns out to be the tenant. Amazon Web Services has been building like crazy in Northern Virginia as it pursues a major expansion of its cloud computing infrastructure. Much of this new development has focused on the growing Dulles Cloud Corridor in Southern Loudoun County, as well as sites in Prince William County. But AWS is also continuing to add capacity in Ashburn, where development sites are becoming scarce.
Northern Virginia is a strategic location for all cloud computing platforms, and is home to Amazon’s massive US-East region, where it maintains six availability zones, more than in any other location. AWS has deployed more than 4 million square feet of data center space in Northern Virginia, and is expected to add another 1.2 million square feet by the first quarter of 2021.
The Beaumeade Circle project is likely to come online later in 2021. AWS also has significant long-term development capacity at a new campus near Dulles Airport that can support up to 2.5 million square feet of data centers.
These projects are consistent with Amazon’s steady effort to provision more capacity for its fast-growing cloud operation. AWS and its development partners are constantly acquiring land and building data centers to ensure that the company doesn’t run out of server space in Northern Virginia. As the cloud grows, having servers in the region has become the table stakes for companies with ambitions in cloud computing.
Google and Microsoft are also adding cloud capacity in Northern Virginia, which is currently experiencing a huge burst in data center development due in part to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is accelerating cloud adoption as society shifts to digital platforms to support socially-distanced work, education and commerce.
Plenty of Action in Data Center Alley
The Beaumeade Circle property is one of the largest remaining development sites near the nexus of Data Center Alley near the intersection of Loudoun County Parkway and Waxpool Road. It borders the newest Equinix campus in Ashburn on the East side of the parkway, where the framework of one new building has been completed and several more are planned. Equinix bought that 34.5-acre site in 2017 for $1 million an acre, a deal that kicked off a sharp rise in land values in Data Center Alley.
That’s reflected in the purchase price of $35 million for the Beaumeade Circle site, which works out to about $1.9 million an acre. It’s the latest in a series of premium land buys in the neighborhood, including several sites where existing buildings are likely to be razed or repurposed for data center use.
- Last year Digital Realty purchased a 13-acre property on Filigree Court in Ashburn from Airbus Americas for $28 million, or about $2.14 million per acre. Digital Realty has multiple development sites in Loudoun County, and appears to be focusing on other sites for the moment.
- In 2018 Cologix bought the site of the Christian Fellowship Church on Beaumeade Circle, which also borders the Equinix campus for about $1.6 million an acre. Cologix has announced plans to develop 100 megawatts of data center capacity, but has not begun active development of the property.
While new projects are percolating adjacent to Equinix, there’s plenty of new capacity in the neighborhood, as Digital Realty, Cloud HQ and Aligned are all developing massive buildings with between 96 megawatts and 120 megawatts of data center space. Vantage, NTT Global Data Centers (RagingWire), QTS, AWS and Sabey all have new capacity available or in the works in the area.