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June 25, 2012

$120M Data Center Campus Announced for Metro Austin

By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor

Arista Data Centers plans to build a four- to six-building, 500,000-square-foot, $210 million data center campus in Pflugerville, Texas, in the northeastern Austin metro area, the Pflugerville Community Development Corp. has announced. A land purchase agreement for the project is underway, and an announcement regarding the first tenant data center operator is expected in the next few weeks.

In case you’re scratching your head over who on earth Arista Data Centers is, don’t worry that you’ve never heard of them before, because they don’t actually exist. Though the announcements about this project have referred to Arista, it’s supposedly a placeholder name, evidently a kind of alias, for a master developer who has been in the business and is highly capable, according to Angelos Angelou. Angelou is principal executive officer of Angelou Economics, an economic development consulting firm with offices in Austin and Dubai, among whose site selection clients is Arista. Angelou was unavailable for further comment.

Among Pflugerville’s advantages for Arista, Angelou cited the city’s deregulated electric market, its solid electric infrastructure with good proximity to dual-feed electric capability (electric lines tied to multiple substations) and a strong telecom infrastructure with fiber providers already on site.

Arista is working with HP’s relatively new Critical Facilities Implementation Service, a prime integrator for data center design, construction and project management. Dallas-based StructureTone will be the general contractor.

The four to six buildings on the campus are expected to be LEED Silver certified and powered by renewable energy. If everything stays on schedule, there should be plenty of that soon.

Groundbreaking was set to take place this month on the 720-acre, $200 million, 60 MW Pflugerville Solar Farm, which is scheduled for completion in June 2013. The project, which is reportedly among the nation’s largest solar farms, is being co-developed by Austin-based RRE Austin Solar, a startup with backing from two Indian companies, NEPC India Ltd. and ReGen Powertech, and electronics giant Panasonic.

In addition, a new 20 MW solar plant in Webberville, at the eastern edge of Travis County, was phased into operation last December and January.

There appears to have been extensive horse-trading regarding the data center campus’s economic development incentives, which were finalized only about 10 days ago. According to the final agreement, the city or the development corporation will:

  • Provide a tax rebate of as much as $350,000 (75 percent) on real and personal property tax investments over $100 million;
  • Build a road to the project site;
  • Add a transformer to the site to provide a redundant power source for 24/7/365 data center operations;
  • Grant as much as $350,000 for the extension of fiber-optic lines to the site; and
  • Provide $3,000 per job up to 25 jobs within four years. There are additional incentives for further jobs (a total of 170 within 10 years) and conditions on Arista for annual salaries and benefits.

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