In the latest sign of the expanding geography of cloud computing, Amazon Web Services is seeking approvals to build a large cluster of data centers.
Amazon Web Services has filed plans to rezone nearly 2,000 acres of land in Spotsylvania County for future data center projects, which could bring more than 10 million square feet of data centers. The projects would continue a trend in which data center construction has shifted further south in Virginia, extending well beyond the historic cloud hubs around Loudoun and Prince William counties.
The proposed campuses in Spotsylvania County are part of Amazon Web Services' plans to invest $35 billion in new data center campuses in Virginia over the next 15 years, supported by new tax incentives and grants.
"AWS has invested $35 billion in Virginia over the past decade and we plan to expand our business to invest an additional $35 billion by 2040," an AWS spokesperson said. "We recently submitted an application in Spotsylvania County as part of the due diligence process in exploring possible locations for investment.
"We are spending time in each community listening to residents and local leaders to understand their priorities and are proud of the ways our data centers have positively impacted data center communities through our investments, employee volunteering and outreach, delivering education programs, and skills training programs to help students pursue good paying careers in technology fields," the spokesperson said.
AWS has more than 50 data centers in Northern Virginia positioned near a strategic Internet intersection in Ashburn which serves as a global crossroads for data traffic. The company's US-East Northern Virginia cloud region is the largest single concentration of corporate data centers on earth. As the cloud grows, the ability to add servers near Ashburn has become the table stakes for companies with ambitions in cloud computing.
Growing Beyond Data Center Alley
Over the past several years, the boundaries of the Northern Virginia cloud cluster have been steadily expanding to accommodate strong demand for data centers in the region. Contributing factors include power constraints in Loudoun County that will limit new construction in the next several years, strong community resistance to data center development in Prince William County, and a dwindling supply of development parcels in both counties.
Developers have proposed large data centers campuses in Stafford County and Fauquier County, which each share a border with Prince William. Slightly further south in Culpeper County, Amazon has won approval to build two data centers near Culpeper.
Spotsylvania County is even further south, about halfway between Ashburn and Richmond. The AWS sites are roughly 70 miles south of Data Center Alley, the focal point for Internet connectivity in Northern Virginia.
Bringing data center development to new areas was one of the goals of the updated incentives for AWS and other large data centers, according to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. “Virginia will continue to encourage the development of this new generation of data center campuses across multiple regions of the Commonwealth," said Youngkin.
Opportunity for New Data Center Districts
As DCF noted at the time, the AWS expansion "boosts the prospects for emerging data center markets in Richmond, Virginia Beach and areas like Stafford and Fauquier counties that are jockeying for spillover capacity from the crowded Ashburn mega-cluster."
The projects in Spotsylvania County, which were first reported by local media, are south of Fredericksburg Projects in Spotsylvania, which all have a 10 to 15-year timeline to full buildout:
- The Summit Crossing Tech Campus proposal calls for 2.1 million SF of data centers on a 231-acre property in Massaponax. Amazon is seeking to rezone the property from rural district to industrial use.
- Amazon is seeking a similar rezoning for the Carter's Store Tech Campus, which envisions 2.6 million square feet of data centers on 313 acres that border the Summit Crossing land.
- The Cosner Tech Campus would be built on 329 acres in Massaponax just south of the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, and features plans for 1.9 million SF of data centers. Amazon is seeking to rezone the land from mixed use to industrial.
- The largest of the projects is the planned Orrock Tech Campus, which would span 1,078 acres across Spotsylvania and Caroline counties and feature 4.5 million square feet of data centers, along with electrical infrastructure. The company has submitted requests to rezone the land from agricultural to industrial use.
"AWS is committed to being a good neighbor in every community where we have a presence and we look forward to continuing these conversations throughout the permitting process,” said the AWS spokesperson.