Huge Data Centers Pop Up on Tech Landscape

By Cleary, Mike | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 16, 1999 | Go to article overview

Huge Data Centers Pop Up on Tech Landscape


Cleary, Mike, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The science fiction writers were right - the computers are taking over.

In a twist on real estate development, companies that came out to Northern Virginia to give employees a nice place to work now want to lease or build buildings that give computers a nice place to compute.

From Broad Run to the Beltway, telecommunications and Internet-related companies are scouring undeveloped land to establish "data centers" that store and route billions of bits of information a day.

"They're looking for 100,000 to 200,000 square feet apiece," said Tim Eden, a broker with Grubb & Ellis. "It's definitely a force."

It's another sign of how an unprecedented technology need has added momentum to the real estate boom in Northern Virginia, bringing high-tech warehouses into office parks.

Technology companies have been building these for a few years, but demand has surged since last year, brokers said. There are 10 to 12 data centers that have recently closed deals or are still looking.

"Data centers are essentially office buildings for computers," said Mark Rose, a broker with Jones Lang LaSalle.

"Most telecommunications and Internet service providers are looking" for sites, he said. They use the data centers for collecting data from customers, digesting it and using it, storing Web site information for use on the Internet, as well as communicating with other networks linked to the Internet, he said.

"The heart of the Internet is in Virginia. It's a fairly logical place for these companies to have their data centers," Mr. Rose said.

Silicon Valley and Boston, the country's other major technology centers, are also favorite hunting grounds for data centers, but lower land costs favor Northern Virginia, analysts said.

Some recent deals include Qwest leasing 47,000 square feet in Sterling, AboveNet leasing space in Reston and buying land nearby to build a 200,000-square-foot facility, Pacific Gateway signing for 48,000 square feet in Loudoun County and Equinox building a highly secure site that tries to keep a low profile in Loudoun County.

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