Based on past recent performance, even casual data center industry observers might have suspected that PowerHouse Data Centers would be heavily afoot and on the move in 2024 as an emergent force in the business of turnkey site selection, powered shell and build-to-suit facilities development, serving hyperscalers, data center operators, and multinational companies.
One of the leading lights in a crop of new developers to enter the Northern Virginia data center market in recent years, PowerHouse has already made its impression felt in Loudoun County. The company's well-publicized razing last year of the old AOL headquarters near Dulles Airport for hyperscale data center construction in a 1.2 million sq ft project was at the time only the latest, "almost-too-on-the-nose" symbolic expression of where PowerHouse is headed.
PowerHouse Data Centers was introduced in 2022 as the brand for the digital infrastructure business of American Real Estate Partners (AREP). PowerHouse partnered with investor Harrison Street, who at that time announced plans to invest $1 billion to build six data centers representing 2.1 million SF of space in Northern Virginia by 2026. PowerHouse immediately set about executing that vision.
The developer's seminal project was the imminent PowerHouse ABX-1 at Beaumeade, a 265,000 square foot (SF) data center in the heart of Ashburn, Virginia, now apparently on the verge of coming online. Last year, PowerHouse secured a 30-year lease agreement with CyrusOne for the entirety of ABX-1, marking an exceptionally strong debut for the JV between PowerHouse and Harrison Street.
AREP’s data center platform is PowerHouse. AREP fully owns and operates PowerHouse, which is a subsidiary of AREP. PowerHouse has a joint venture with Harrison Street to develop several data centers in key markets. This month, the PowerHouse Harrison Street JV announced that it recently closed on land sites for new data centers in Reno, Nevada and Spotsylvania, Virginia.
Rumblings that PowerHouse might be working up to a forklift expansion of operations were felt last October when the company announced the appointment of Karen Petersburg as its new Vice President of Data Center Development and Construction. Credited with over 17 years of procurement, design, sustainability, and project management experience in the mission critical sector, Petersburg brings key data center construction strategy and commissioning capabilities to PowerHouse.
In announcing her hiring, PowerHouse Data Centers stated:
"Petersburg brings a fully integrated skillset, combining proven technical and enterprise leadership experience to PowerHouse. She has built her career managing complex data center design and engineering projects, from hyperscale built-to-suits to major infrastructure renovations. Recognized for her exacting process and quality standards, Petersburg successfully developed and led cross-functional global teams focused on sustainability, end-to-end process efficiency, and design alignment programs. Petersburg approaches data center development holistically, from concept through commissioning and turnover, to ensure seamless speed-to-market."
Remarking on Petersburg's appointment, Douglas Fleit, co-founder and CEO of PowerHouse Data Centers and AREP, said, “PowerHouse has established a team of innovative and highly strategic practitioners, to which we credit our fast rise in the industry and recent major successes. Adding Karen’s expertise and dynamism further expands the strong leadership capabilities that give us our competitive edge.”
One-Two Punch: Reno
Now we see where that edge is being honed.
For part one of the aforementioned one-two combination, rewind to just last week, when PowerHouse announced its closing on the site of “PowerHouse Reno,” a three-building, 900,000 SF powered shell data center campus being developed in Reno, Nevada.
The Reno site will be the company's first campus outside of northern Virginia, marking PowerHouse's national expansion.
Located in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC), the largest industrial park by landmass in the United States, PowerHouse Reno (PH Reno) will provide more than 65 MW of bridging power, scheduled to be in-place by year-end 2025, to serve the increasing data demands of hyperscale users in the area.
TRIC and Reno have evolved into one of the nation’s fastest growing tech hubs as land and power becomes prohibitive in Northern California. The Reno region’s central location to all key Western markets, access to low cost renewable energy, qualified workforce, competitive tax rates and abatements, and overall business-friendly environment makes for an optimal location, notes PowerHouse.
“As the growth of AI throughout all industries continues to push hyperscale demand roll out, sites like PowerHouse Reno will serve the market with near term power delivery at attractive costs with reliable renewable energy components,” said PowerHouse CEO Fleit. “This is another important addition to our portfolio of data centers and we are extremely pleased to be continuing our relationship with Harrison Street as our partner in this venture.”
“The expansion of the PowerHouse platform into the highly connected and desirable Reno market is an important step in addressing the challenges facing leading technology firms,” added Michael Hochanadel, Managing Director and Head of Digital for Harrison Street. "PowerHouse is well positioned to capitalize on evolving customer requirements, and our Reno location aligns with the needs of the market. We look forward to further expansion across the U.S. in the future.”
PowerHouse joins Tract as one of the newer entrants into the field of MegaCampus development in the hyperscale-driven U.S. Mountain West. For its part, Tract was also seen crucially on the move in the region this week, announcing an exclusive collaboration agreement with Silicon Ranch to align renewable energy and data center development in Nevada and Utah.
As part of the collaboration, Silicon Ranch initiates site acquisition and interconnection processes for owned and operated utility-scale solar and battery projects exceeding 500 MW "to directly support the scale and timing of data centers" on Tract campuses in both states.
One-Two Punch: Spotsylvania
Scale and timing were two words that came again to mind this week, when PowerHouse and AREP announced their completed purchase of 145 acres in Spotsylvania, Virginia to serve as the site of the PowerHouse 95 (PH 95) data center campus.
Spotsylvania lies slightly to the southeast down Interstate 95 from PowerHouse's heretofore marquee sites in the environs of Data Center Alley. There's just enough room down the road that PH 95 will have three 300 MW substations, with the first currently under development and expected to provide 150 MWs by October 2025.
Upon completion, the first substation will provide enough power to construct up to eight or more high-density data centers. PowerHouse 95 will serve the data-intensive needs of hyperscale users in northern Virginia, the world's undisputed largest data center market. Harrison Street and PowerHouse will have the flexibility to develop between four to eight powered shells and two additional substations, maximizing optionality for hyperscale tenants.
With power constraints basically defining the region, the campus, located along the I-95 corridor and with two existing substations offering imminent access to power, will bring a competitive advantage by accelerating PowerHouse’s ability to address regional customers' increasing data demands.
“The site will appeal to hyperscale users that seek well located developments with access to power and good fiber connectivity,” affirmed PowerHouse's Fleit. “This is the ‘speed to market’ that hyperscale users are demanding today and which provides low latency data transport options back to their campuses and peering sites in Ashburn.”
In addition to closing on PH 95 and PH Reno, PowerHouse also this week noted it has four developments underway in northern Virginia totaling over 700 MW.
Converging with Chirisa
As previously reported by DCF, Irish company Chirisa Investments entered the fray as another new player in Data Center Alley in 2018 with its acquisition of the property at the intersection of Beaumeade Circle and Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn, one of the most strategic locations in Northern Virginia, and the then soon-to-be site of PowerHouse's ABX-1 at Beaumeaude data center.
Chirisa owns 365 Data Centers and Digital Fortress, two brands that have focused primarily on operating smaller “retail” colocation data centers in secondary markets. With the Ashburn project, Chirisa signaled it was super-sizing its facilities and its ambitions in the U.S.
And now, as in this week, Chirisa Technology Parks (CTP), the wholesale and hyperscale data center development platform of Chirisa Investments, has announced a major expansion of its data center footprint across Virginia, Illinois, Washington and New Jersey. Following these expansions, CTP said it will have deployed over 400 MW of critical capacity for large wholesale and hyperscale customers in partnership with PowerHouse Data Centers.
CTP and PowerHouse's offered capabilities include "build-to-suit hyperscale powered shells, HPC and AI-focused high-density deployments, turnkey data center solutions for cloud customers, and bespoke edge deployments in major metropolitan markets."
PowerHouse and AREP's CEO Fleit commented, "We're thrilled to partner with Chirisa to deliver these state-of-the-art data center facilities with unbeatable speed-to-market that meets the complex needs of hyperscale tenants. Our shared commitment to exceeding those needs is foundational."
The CTP team and its key strategic partners, prominently including PowerHouse Data Centers, are committed to meeting the complex needs of large and sophisticated customers across North America and Europe.
From its inception, CTP said its strategic focus has been on rapid delivery of high-performance, leading-edge facilities based on bespoke designs with top-tier efficiency. The company contends the platform's pipeline of brownfield and greenfield locations in prime data center geographies enables speed to market for new capacity at scale.
Other notable CTP locations include:
- Richmond, Virginia: Digital Drive Campus. Co-developed with Powerhouse Data Centers, the campus expands on the planned 500,000 square feet of data center space on the existing 300-acre Richmond campus at Meadowville Technology Park, to provide up to 1 million square feet of state-of-the-art data center space for hyperscale users when completed. CTP and Powerhouse are currently in the process of delivering a new 300 MW substation on the campus to accommodate the rapidly growing demand in the Richmond, VA market.
- Chicago, Illinois: Partnering with PowerHouse Data Centers as a development partner, CTP recently delivered the first phase of a 160,000-square-foot, 30 MW specialist facility, including dedicated lab space and state-of-the-art cooling systems. CTP and PowerHouse will complete the second phase including a high-density HPC installation with direct-to-chip cooling and high-performance closed-loop cooling systems by December 2024.
- Piscataway, NJ: CTP recently acquired a large facility in Piscataway, NJ and intends to build out 25MW of capacity at the site, commencing in 2024 with a 12 MW build-out for a large customer. The facility hosts several large-scale customers with critical requirements to deliver content and services to the major surrounding metropolitan areas of New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.
- Seattle, Washington: CTP recently acquired a new 10 MW standalone facility in Lynnwood, Washington, formerly occupied by a hyperscale tenant. CTP will refit this facility and deploy an initial 5MW edge installation for an AI-focused customer seeking rapid deployment in the Washington market.
"We have employed a patient and long-term strategy at CTP, leveraging our close industry relationships from Chirisa's 25+ year involvement as an investor and operator in tech and telecoms," concluded Lee Hayes, Managing Director of Chirisa and President of CTP. "Our CTP platform is focused on delivering for the specialized and more challenging requirements of large and sophisticated customers."