622-Acre Data Center Project Moves Forward Near Richmond

This campus could include more than a dozen buildings.

Northern Virginia is home to the highest data center concentration in the world, with projects such as PowerHouse’s 800 MW campus. Image courtesy of PowerHouse Data Centers

Richmond-based Hourigan has data center plans for a 622-acre site in Greater Richmond, Va., as reported by the Richmond Times Dispatch. Initially dubbed White Oak Technology Park 2, the industrial campus could encompass up to 13 colocation data centers.

The developer has secured an initial approval from Henrico County’s Planning Commission for the rezoning of the site at the interchange between interstates 64 and 295 in Sandston, Va., from agricultural to light industrial use. The new designation would allow for data centers, advanced manufacturing facilities, office space and other related commercial uses.

READ ALSO: AI Is Changing the Game for Data Centers: JLL

Hourigan’s development would be an extension of White Oak Technology Park, a business campus that houses the Richmond Network Access Point (NAP), the only place in the world where four subsea cables, terrestrial networks and data center management overlap.

Hourigan has committed to paying for the necessary water infrastructure for this project, while Dominion Energy is slated to build a 5-mile, 230-kilovolt transmission line for the tech park, according to the same source, with costs estimated at $44.6 million. The energy company is currently working to obtain the necessary approvals.

Data center boom, encouraged

Henrico County representatives have made directed efforts to attract more data center developments in the area. In 2017, the local authorities cut the equipment tax rate from $3.5 to $0.40 per $100 of assessed value.

However, the project is facing opposition from both environmental groups and local historians, despite the go-ahead from the Planning Commission. While the environmental concerns regard water and fossil fuel usage, historians are worried that the development would rise on an important Civil War battlefield.

To placate criticism, Hourigan stated it aims to build the data centers in compliance with LEED Silver standards and is conducting a historical study at the site.

NoVa keeps attracting large-scale projects

It’s no secret that nearby Northern Virginia remains the world’s largest data center market, and the Richmond area is benefiting due to both a spillover effect and several underwater cables hitting land nearby. What’s less known, however, is the market’s growth speed. Northern Virginia data center stock could more than double by the end of this decade, according to several estimates. Case in point, another massive project is hitting its first regulatory hoops.

The Potomac Development Group is eyeing a 9 million-square-foot data center project in King George County, dubbed Dahlgren West, involving the construction of 10 to 15 buildings across 500 acres, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reported. The development is in its very early stages, as plans for the necessary rezoning were not filed yet, but the company is gathering local feedback and hopes to break ground on the project next year if approvals are obtained fast enough.

The company is new to the data center development market and does not intend to lead the build-out of the campus, but rather prepare the site and turn it over to end users, according to Bisnow. The only other large-scale project in the county is, currently, a $6 billion, 869-acre data center development headed by Amazon, the same source reported.

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