Florida-based Oceanic unveils concept for potential 1.5 million square-foot multi-business data center in several buildings at Hwy. 54 and Veterans Parkway —
It is far from customary for a developer to share the conceptual plan for establishing a large project in a community when that project is still in the planning stages. Yet that is what happened Oct. 29 when Joel Embry, with Florida-based Oceanic Data Centers, Inc., told an audience at a Fayette County Development Authority (FCDA) workshop of his team’s desire to construct a large data center along Ga. Highway 54 West in Fayetteville.
No strangers to large projects, Embry and the Oceanic team members and consultants have decades of experience in both the data center and real estate areas.
Embry at the meeting attended by nearly 50 city and county officials and guests said the project, as envisioned, would establish a data center on the Lester property. That property totals 123 acres north of Hwy. 54 West, west of Veterans Parkway and extending to the area of Tyrone Road.
The concept would have an as yet undetermined number of buildings that, at final build-out, could provide approximately 1.5 million sq. ft. of data center space.
As is familiar to many people today, data centers do provide a limited number of jobs compared to other large projects such as manufacturing. Yet data center projects do not bring large volumes of traffic, they do not bring significant impact to local schools and they not pollute. What data centers do bring is a significant tax base.
In the case of the Fayetteville project, the development at full build-out could bring a taxable value of $2 billion, Embry said.
“I believe this is the best time and the best place to do a new data center project oriented to the cloud,” Embry said, emphasizing the Oceanic intent to partner with the community in bringing the project to reality.
The spaces at the Fayetteville site would serve as colocation data centers for a number of businesses, housed in variety of building types, Embry said.
While Embry was willing to share the Oceanic vision for Fayetteville, he was also clear that there is much left to accomplish to bring the project to fruition.
“There is a lot of due diligence still needed,” Embry said. “It could easily be two years away to be occupied.”
While nearly all the data centers in metro Atlanta are located on the north side, it was a visit by Embry to Fayette a few years ago that introduced him to the area. It was a time when Pinewood Atlanta Studios was coming out of the ground and the conversation about Pinewood Forest was ongoing.
Embry visited the site and attended some of the Wednesday morning prayer breakfasts held at the Pinewood Production Centre, which began as construction meetings before taking on a life of their own. Embry said he began meeting local people and looking at property.
It was sometime later that the Facebook project came and went, with Facebook deciding on the much larger Stanton Springs site east of Covington.
Speaking about the Facebook project, FCDA President Joan Young after the meeting said Facebook provided FCDA, at no charge, with the due diligence information it had amassed when looking at the Fayetteville site. That information carried a substantial cost to Facebook, she said.
Current state tax incentives have gone a long way in attracting data centers to the state, with many of them located in north metro Atlanta, as noted at the meeting by Ga. Department of Economic Development representative Randall Toussaint.
Commenting on state incentives, Embry said the state’s forward-thinking view on investors was enough to generate Oceanic‘s interest in coming here. Beyond that, Young said FCDA also has potential tools available, if potentially needed.
Young explained that the Oceanic project differs greatly from most of those interested in coming to the county, given that most development projects come with a high degree of business confidentiality which prohibits a great deal of public discussion prior to the time those projects are finalized and the announcements made.
“This one was different,” said Young. “When a project embraces the community and is willing to talk about it, we’re happy to share it.”