Northern Virginia's Data Center Boom Continues With New Large-Scale Projects

23 Mar 2014 by Technology

"Northern Virginia is home to one of the world's largest clusters of data center real estate, and an estimated 70 percent of Internet traffic passes through Loudoun County. Despite the already massive sprawl of regional data centers, though, the trend shows no signs of stopping. Several major projects have been announced for the area in recent months, with the most recent being a planned 1.1 million-square-foot data center from California data center operator Equinix. When completed, the facility would be the third-largest in the world, the Loudoun Times reported.

Data Center in Ashburn, VA
Northern Virginia - and Loudoun County specifically - has been a major hub for data center construction in recent years. Last fall, the Washington Post reported that Northern Virginia houses 9 million square feet of data centers. Loudoun County alone houses 5 million square feet of data center real estate, and, as of October, another 3 million square feet was planned or under development.

For the past few years, data center development has steadily outpaced office development in Loudoun County. According to a January Washington Post article, the county added nearly 800,000 square feet of data center space and no office space in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, the county added more than 428,000 square feet of data center space - around quadruple the amount of new office space. Prior to recent announcements, the county was projected to add 600,000 square feet of data center space, compared to just 49,099 square feet of office space, in the year ahead.

""As a business developer, data centers have been my life for the last bunch of years, so I'm really happy to see that growth and to see what we've achieved there,"" Buddy Rizer, the county's director of economic development, told the Washington Post.

More Projects On The Way
With at least three major projects announced in recent months, the trend shows no sign of slowing down. In addition to Equinix, CyrusOne recently purchased 14 acres of land in Loudoun County and announced plans to build a 400,000-square-foot facility with around 240,000 square feet of raised floor space. The new facility in Sterling, Va., will be designed to deliver up to 48 megawatts of critical load. Construction will begin with a 124,000-square-foot shell with 60,000 square feet of raised floor space, 15,000 square feet of office space and 12 megawatts of critical load. This phase is expected to be completed this year.

Elsewhere, Corporate Office Properties Trust announced a 315,000-square-foot project spread out across two facilities in January 2013, and the company appears set to begin building the second of the two buildings this spring. The company, a primarily office-focused real estate investment trust focusing on the U.S. defense sector, branched out into the data center market after recognizing the regional demand.

Inside The Equinix Project
While interest in development in the region is consistently strong, the anticipated Equinix facility in Ashburn could be a particular watershed moment. As filed, the plan calls for the construction of six buildings, the Loudoun Times reported. Equinix currently operates 10 data centers in the Northern Virginia area, with eight in Ashburn alone. These facilities serve more than 650 businesses, including Amazon Web Services. The new data center would greatly expand the scope of Loudoun County's so-called ""Data Center Alley.""

""Equinix is one of the world's best data center operators, and one of the biggest operators in Loudoun,"" Rizer told the Loudoun Times. ""Their vision of growth in Loudoun is significant, and is further evidence of the importance of Data Center Alley as a technology location.""

The only data centers in operation that are larger than the planned Equinix one are the Range International Hub in Langfang, China, which covers 6.3 million square feet, and the Switch SuperNAP campus in Nevada, which includes 2.2 million square feet of data center space, the Loudoun Times noted. Data Center Alley is believed to be the world's fourth-largest data hub.

Supported by steady investment from government agencies as well as private sector clients like Amazon Web Services, the region seems positioned to continue its pace of development. With new projects like the Equinix, COPT and CyrusOne data centers on the horizon, Northern Virginia will continue to be a critical part of the data center landscape."

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