Northern Virginia: Questions raised over Loudoun County data center proposal

May 14, 2021 | Posted by Eric Bell

BlackChamber Group’s application to build a 530,000 sq ft (49,000 sq m) data center in Loudoun County has split the county’s board of supervisors. According to a report published in Washington Business Journal, the group’s proposal to build two facilities on the 23-acre plot could be rejected in favor of keeping part of the area free for shops and housing.

BlackChamber’s proposed project would inject immediate revenue into the county, an estimated $90 million in tax within the next ten years. That said, critics say that building two data centers on the plot would be “detrimental” to the surrounding areas and poor use of the land.

Representative of the local area, Democrat supervisor Sylvia Glass, said that she was “not comfortable” with the data center development for this reason.

Proposed Data Center location outlined in Red

Meanwhile, Ben Wales, a land-use attorney at Cooley LLP, argued that the developers did not think that the area would develop for residential use for another 30 years. As a result, BlackChambers have agreed to a condition whereby the data center would just be an “interim use” of the site, with notice to end development of the site in 25 years.

Alongside the $90 million generated in tax, the developer has offered $265,000 for the county’s affordable housing trust fund and an additional $50,000 for local STEM programs at elementary schools to make the proposal more attractive.

The board will make its decision in a meeting on June 1.
Rendering of the proposed data center campus - source: JCL Consulting