Firm to bring 2,300 high-tech jobs
By Caryn Goebel
Media General News Service
GAINESVILLE Officials with a California-based company have finalized a deal for an Internet campus at Virginia Gateway, a project that will create more than 2,300 high-tech jobs and the largest business investment ever in Prince William County.
U.S. Data Port announced it has purchased 188 acres from The Peterson Companies to build a campus of 15-20 data center buildings, complete with its own power system. When complete in about five years, and with tenants and equipment in place, the project could reach an investment value of nearly $800 million.
The news that U.S. Data Port would come to Gainesville comes only three days after an America Online announcement to build a second technical center there, also on Linton Hall Road. A small portion of the U.S. Data Port property will touch the AOL perimeter.
The campus, or super hub as some U.S. Data Port representatives call it, would be interconnected by a fiber optic network, have tight security and cover up to 3.75 million square-feet of floor space.
Within the campus will be a natural gas-supplied Critical Reliable Energy Center to generate its own electricity and chilled water to cool computer equipment, said Grant Sedgwick, president and chief executive officer of U.S. Data Port.
In the event of a power failure, the campus will be connected to Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative for back-up.
U.S. Data Port had visited many sites in the Northern Virginia and southern Maryland areas to locate its second Internet campus. The company considered property at [email protected] William, the countys business-tech park. But a pending contract between the county and another prospect prompted U.S. Data Port to continue the search, Sedgwick said.
Construction of the companys first Internet campus began this summer on a 140-acre parcel in San Jose, Calif. A third site is under review in the New York metro area.
The U.S. Data Port path of expansion is following a huge concentration of Internet traffic found in four major markets Silicon Valley, Calif., Northern Virginia/Washington D.C., New York and London, England.
Theres a need for highly-specialized data facilities in these places, Sedgwick said.
Representatives of The Peterson Companies and U.S. Data Port are under confidentiality agreements to not disclose how much was paid for the property.
Lewis Shadle, U.S. Data Ports senior vice-president for business development, said the company has been in contact with about 150 potential tenants for the data campus. At this point, sensitivity in negotiations doesnt allow disclosure of who might move to the campus, Shadle said.
Data hubs are a boon to Prince William County because they hold valuable computer equipment that generates a large tax revenue. Sedgwick estimates, once up and running, the U.S. Data Port project would generate a tax revenue in excess of $20 million for the county.
Data hubs are also attractive because of the low number of employees required to maintain the 24-hour facility, thus putting less stress on roads and county services.
A traffic impact analysis determined the proposed use for the Internet campus would generate less traffic than how the property was originally zoned, Sedgwick said.
Mike Lubeley, attorney for the project, said the property is already zoned within county requirements, although a public hearing will be heard by the Prince William County Planning Commission since a special use permit is required to build the on-site power plant.
A date has yet to be set for that public hearing.
Caryn Goebel is a staff writer with the Potomac News in Woodbridge