Should Data Centers Go Vertical in Oregon? Dan Dias, City of Hillsboro, Gives an Insider Take

Aug 9, 2018
by Josh Anderson

PORTLAND, OR – The Portland, and larger Oregon, data center arenas are hot. But that doesn’t mean that anyone can dive into the region and come out on top. In fact, sometimes developers will even find resistance or obstacles – whether it be zoning, taxes, or even public relations — in a municipality like Hillsboro. So at CapRE’s Second Annual Greater Portland Data Center Summit May 17 kicked off with a panel titled Greater Portland Data Center Market 360: From Hillsboro to Downtown Portland, What Firms are Actively Developing, Investing & Why? 

About a quarter of the way into the panel, Moderator Conan Lee, Managing Director at JLL, engaged with panelist Dan Dias, Economic Development Director, City of Hillsboro, for a brief back-and-forth about the fragile balance in Hillsboro’s economy and geography. After this conversation, the focus moved to whether or not vertical construction could change the game.

data center summit“I really do think that you’re going to start seeing vertical buildings in even markets like Hillsboro,” predicted Lee. “As John [Sheputis, President, Infomart Data Centers] said, it’s happening in Ashburn. And it really is. RagingWire and others are doing three-story, four-story stacked assets because of similar limitations on land. Ashburn looks very similar to Hillsboro from the perspective of demand profiles and what not, except for Hillsboro is, you know, fifteen years ahead and skyrocketing in demand right now. Dan, does that help the case for data centers, from your perspective, if they’re stacked?”

“I do believe that,” replied Dias matter-of-factly. “And I look forward to on-going discussions – again because we have to bring experts in from different perspectives to determine what operationally is feasible in terms of the infrastructure within and the development formats of the facilities themselves.”

“As they say, there is a desire to continue to work with data centers, within our community in particular, but it’s more the matter of how and where of those discussions,” he continued. “We’ve talked with many of the 13 or so existing data center operaters within our community, and entities we’re looking to engage with, to understand verticality. What is possible to allow the additional investment and how to take advantage of the four trans-pacific cables currently coming online and the connectivity that’s bringing?”

Dan Dias, Director of Economic Development, City of Hillsboro

And don’t forget, Dias urged, there are some other policies and considerations in place to consider. “John touched on employment, and that’s one that we look very much to see,” he explained. “How can we support data center growth and the growth of data processing needs in general? Also, what other opportunities, from our community standpoint, are there to capture additional investment benefits, whether that be data center themselves or whether related industries, you know the whole edge computing notion, what may that lead to, in terms of the roll out of new technologies or new users?”

Concluded Dias, “It’s something we will continue to pursue and see where, maybe, opportunities are. We may have to create a bit of a new mold, but we’re interested in being partners to do that.”

For more coverage from this panel, check out previous CapRE Insider Reports:

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