By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor
Once a buzzing steel mill that employed thousands of people, the former Fairless Works located on the bank of the Delaware River in Bucks County will be replaced by an advanced data center that is expected to cater to the technology needs of the Northeast’s growing business environment.
Keystone Network Access Point (NAP)—a relatively new partnership which was incorporated by a veteran team of IT executives in 2013 and is based in Fairless Hills, PA—is betting on the severe lack of data centers immediately north and east of Philadelphia. “We are bridging a crucial technology gap on the East Coast,” said Peter Ritz, founder and CEO of Keystone NAP. “Yet until now, there haven’t been solutions in the region to address the new demands those applications create. Companies increasingly need greater data center power and connectivity, as well as service support to keep operations running smoothly while employees focus on core business functions,” he added.
Located on South Pennsylvania Avenue on the USX Industrial Park, Fairless Works became fully operational in December 1952. According to a case study by Carnegie Mellon University, the 2,500-acre facility originally consisted of a coke plant, a chemical plant, a power house, a steel mill and finishing and forging facilities. The plant reached peak operations in the mid-1970s, when it employed around 7,000 workers. The plant closed most of its operations during the 1980s and only the steel finishing facility, which employed 100 people, remained operational.
Two years ago the Philadelphia Business Journal reported that Steel ORCA had plans to invest approximately $750 million in a large size data center, but the project fell through eventually.
Keystone NAP, which has developed a system of private modular, stackable data center vaults called KeyBlocks, expects the 180,000-square-foot data center to become operational in early 2015. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the co-location and IT services provider has raised capital from a group of Philadelphia-based investors led by Ira Lubert along with additional investors arranged by DH Capital. Taking advantage of the existing power infrastructure at the site—Exelon Fairless Hills Steam Generating Station, Waste Management Landfill Gas Reserve, PSEG Mercer Generating Station, Wheelabrator Falls, and Dominion Energy Clearinghouse—Keystone NAP will offer a web-scale infrastructure and 2,040 megawatts of guaranteed power durability.
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Renderings courtesy of Keystone NAP