The world’s largest data center market is about to get another new player. Compass Datacenters has received approval from Loudoun County for the company’s first data center campus in Northern Virginia, and will begin construction next month on its property just south of the Loudoun Greenway between Ashburn and Leesburg.
The 106-acre site is zoned for as 750,000 square feet of wholesale data center space, making it the latest large cloud campus in the red-hot Northern Virginia market.
“Compass already has interest in the data centers on this site from some of the major cloud providers, and we will move forward quickly on development with the target of delivering the first data center space in the Fall of 2018,” said Chris Crosby, CEO of Compass Datacenters. “This project in Loudoun County is a great example of our business model in action, which is to not only build exactly where customer want us, to but also to acquire sites in strategic markets so that we can respond quickly to future demand.”
The project was approved by a 5-4 vote Thursday night by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors following months of public meetings. The discussions highlighted the growing sensitivities to data center development in Loudoun County, which is home to more than 75 data centers and has an estimated 10 million square feet of data center space either built or in process. Residents argued that the Compass site was environmentally sensitive, and that the county should take more time to evaluate land use for the area.
Collaboration Key to Approval
To address those concerns, Compass worked closely with county official to ensure that environmentally-sensitive land adjacent to the project near Goose Creek is protected, and will use a data center design that makes minimal use of water.
“I’m thankful for the commitment that Compass Data Centers has made to Loudoun County,” said Buddy Rizer, Executive Director of Loudoun County Economic Development. “I also appreciate the lengths they have gone to in order address the concerns of the local community, and I’m confident that there is not a more responsible or thoughtful commercial developer to act as the steward of this property. Compass is a world-class operator, and we’re very excited to add them as a corporate citizen in the world’s most dynamic data center market.”
“I’m proud of how responsive my team has been to the requests of the County and feedback from residents who rightfully want to protect a place they love,” said Chris Curtis, Senior Vice President of Development & Acquisitions at Compass. “Our team worked closely with the County to make a series of revisions to our plan to ensure that those environmental concerns are all addressed, and I see this as a model for how data centers companies, counties and residents can work together on these complex projects so everyone’s needs are met.”Chris Curtis: I see this as a model for how data centers companies, counties and residents can work together on these complex projects so everyone's needs are met.Click To Tweet
More Competition in Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia is currently experiencing a data center building boom, befitting its status as the primary on-ramp for major cloud computing platforms. The region is poised for powerful growth as the leading data center REITs and colocation providers race to provide capacity for fast-growing cloud service providers and the digital businesses that seek to connect to these clouds.
Northern Virginia has seen new players entering the market in recent months, along with construction and expansion announcements from existing players. As data center providers scramble to procure expansion space, land values have soared past $1.2 million an acre in recent deals in Ashburn, the region’s largest Internet traffic intersection.
The new project from Compass follows announcements that Vantage Data Centers plans to build a $1 billion complex in Ashburn, while QTS Data Centers is building a new campus on nearby land. Iron Mountain and Cloud HQ opened new data centers in Manassas in Prince William County last year.
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The Compass site is adjacent to land where Google has purchased property for a future data center campus.The Compass site has 56 MVA of utility power capacity, with substantial capability to add more in the future, and plans for the property include a new substation.
Compass emphasized that it designs its facilities to blend into the locations where they are built “far more than the ‘big gray boxes’ of typical large-scale data center projects.” In discussions with Loudoun County, Compass agreed to maintain 64 acres of the 106-acre site as open land, limit building heights to 27 feet, maintain a 300-foot protection buffer from the Goose Creek, change the color of the building from gray to “earth tones,” and add extensive landscaping to the site.
“Our land development expertise is second to none in the industry,” said Crosby. “That is a major reason why so many customers trust us to be a strategic partner for their IT infrastructure.” needs.”