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by Justin Hughes
LEESBURG, VA — A Leesburg-based real estate company is geared up to lure another major data-center cluster to Loudoun County at a 95-acre site near Panda Stonewall Generating Plant along Sycolin Road in Leesburg. The $2 billion USD project is scheduled for an area already zoned industrial and would expand the boom of more than 70 data centers northwest to Leesburg. Currently, a vast majority of the data centers are gathered in Ashburn’s Data Center Alley approximately 10 miles west of the new project, known as Loudoun West.
Loudoun West expects for four to seven data centers on property several miles south of Leesburg Executive Airport, alongside Sycolin Road near the Dulles Greenway. The property is now zoned to house stacks upon stacks of computer servers – connections to the Internet’s Cloud – in 1.88 million square feet of floor space. The property owners have petitioned with the county to increase the data center space by another 500,000 square feet, which would make the total square footage roughly 2.3 million.
Leading the project is Jack O’Donnell, the managing partner of Leesburg-based NV Real Estate 2, which acquired the property in 2016. O’Donnell said, “Loudoun West is another game changer for Loudoun County.” He gathered a team of national and local consultants to partner on the project, and they cited statistics from the county’s economic development department that data centers generate $10 million in revenue a year for every 300,000 square feet of space.
The county’s more than 70 data centers now create about $143 million in annual revenue, according to the county’s economic development department. The Loudoun West site is neighbors with two data center properties, Google and Compass, also known as True North. Properties in Ashburn near the heart of Data Center Alley are priced at and in some instances going far beyond $1 million an acre.
Data centers are bustling in Loudoun, mainly due to access to the world’s largest connection point to the Internet and the extensive fiber infrastructure that emits from the hub established by WorldCom, currently Verizon, at a tech campus on Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn. Plenty of data centers for the world’s largest Internet companies – giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and NTT of Japan – are extending or creating new facilities in the latest wave of Ashburn development.
The Loudoun West project trails the surge of development approaching Leesburg, where Google and Compass Data Centers are strategizing data center clusters next to the Loudoun West. Google bought 58 acres on Energy Park Drive near the Dulles Greenway for $31 million. Compass Data Centers spent $16 million for 105 acres on the south side of the Greenway. The Stonewall Generating Plant is the third neighbor in the industrial quadrant about five miles south-southwest of downtown Leesburg. The plant, built by Panda Power Funds between 2015 and 2017, is a natural gas-fueled generating station that can supply the power needs for as many as 778,000 homes.
O’Donnell says he is committed to keeping Loudoun West attractive despite the area being zoned as industrial. Preliminary plans exhibit a cushion of trees around buildings.