Land and Expand: New Data Center Developments by Meta, T5, Prime, Ardent, Tract, Microsoft

May 9, 2024
A sampling of the latest North American data center development news, including new sites, land acquisitions and campus expansions.

Land and Expand is a periodic feature at Data Center Frontier highlighting a sampling of the latest data center development news, including new sites, land acquisitions and campus expansions. 

Here are some of the new and notable developments from hyperscale and colocation data center operators about which we’ve been reading lately.

Meta

As the latest hyperscaler to focus on markets in the Southeastern U.S., Meta this month announced that it will build a new $800 million data center campus in Montgomery, Alabama.

Marking the company's 20th U.S. facility and its 24th globally, Meta noted that the 715,000-square-foot  Montgomery campus offers "good access to infrastructure and renewable energy" and will support approximately 100 jobs.

The project will feature Meta's new AI-focused design and is also expected to also create 1,000 construction jobs.

The company said the new campus will be supported by 100% renewable energy through Meta's investments in new renewable projects, and will achieve LEED Gold certification once operational. 

 

Alabama's WSFA 12 News reported on May 2 about Meta’s new 715,000-square-foot, AI-optimized data center, which will be built off Interstate 65 in Montgomery, Alabama.

T5 Data Centers

T5 Data Centers is building big in the Suburban Chicago market with the addition of a 480-megawatt campus in Grayslake, Illinois.

The 160-acre site will offer customers build-to-suit data center capacity options ranging from powered shell to full turnkey delivery with integration of T5’s construction and operations services.

Pete Marin, President and CEO of T5 Data Centers, said, “As the data center industry continues its rapid growth, we see the scale and efficiencies of large, powered campuses being critical to meet the capacity requirements of the biggest cloud and AI providers. Which is why we’re thrilled to bring Grayslake to the market today.”

Already zoned for data center use, T5 said in a statement that development will begin immediately, targeting the first 60 MW of data center capacity in Q4 2027. An onsite electrical substation will provide efficient and redundant utility power.

“The new Grayslake campus represents a major investment by T5 to meet the growing demand for large-scale data center capacity to support cloud and artificial intelligence workloads,” said David Horowitz, Senior Vice President, Head of Leasing of T5 Data Centers. “The site’s location is perfectly positioned between major data center hubs of the northern Chicago suburbs and southeastern Wisconsin, which provides an ideal connection point. The Chicago land market continues to be one of the premier markets to build and operate data centers because of the attractive tax incentives, labor pool, established connectivity and power availability.”

With its capacity up to 480 MW, the company expects the campus will cater to the soaring demands of cloud, hyperscale and enterprise clients.

“The amount of power at this site, combined with T5’s customer-focused approach to data center development, will greatly benefit our customers,” continued Horowitz. “T5’s data center business is structured to support our customer’s design, build, and fit out preferences and uniquely allows them to select the operations model that best fits their business requirements now and as they evolve in the future.”

According to the company, the Grayslake development is part of T5’s strategy to concentrate its data center development to a short list of large-scale campuses while continuing to provide construction services and facilities management across US and Europe 

T5 CEO Marin concluded,  “Our Grayslake campus highlights T5’s vision to provide our customers’ large-scale data center capacity with flexibility and integrated services to meet their requirements. Our team’s strong track record of managing the execution and operational risk, strengthens our customer’s confidence that T5 will safely deliver on our commitments to schedule, cost, and performance."

 

 

Prime Data Centers

Hyperscale and wholesale data center developer and operator Prime, active in both America and Europe, this month announced it would move into the Phoenix market with a five-building, 66.5-acre campus in the suburb of Avondale. 

Prime Phoenix will feature 210 megawatts of critical power and 1.3 million square feet of space. The site's Avondale location is in Arizona's Maricopa County, a few minutes west of downtown Phoenix. 

“Phoenix presents an incredible growth opportunity for Prime as a top-five, North American data center market with increasing demand from cloud and enterprise data center buyers,” said Chris Sumter, EVP of Acquisitions at Prime. “With compelling state tax incentives, power costs 16% to 18% below national averages and low risk of natural disasters, Phoenix will sustain its position for years to come. This project will further Prime’s commitment to sustainability and technology advancement through efficient enablement of higher power densities and recycled water.”

Dark fiber access from the campus will provide customers with low-latency connectivity to local carrier-hotel meet-me rooms and internet exchange points. 

The first data center at the campus is projected for Q3 2025 completion and will provide 260,400 square feet and 42 critical megawatts to the capacity-constrained market.

 

The company said the project will culminate in a sustainable, high-density data center campus designed to support hyperscale services providers, large internet brands, global technology companies and the Fortune 500 enterprise.

Meanwhile, Prime will provide customers with reliable access to 100% renewable energy sourcing. Additionally, the closed-loop cooling system at each of the company's Phoenix data center will save millions of gallons of water when compared to evaporative systems, as reckoned by Prime. 

"The result will be near-zero Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) and 97% less water consumed than an equally sized residential neighborhood," added a company statement.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Prime to Avondale,” said Avondale Mayor Kenneth Weise. “With Prime’s data center campus and investment of more than two billion dollars, Avondale is poised to become a next-generation technology hub. This will foster lasting, positive economic growth for years to come with hundreds of permanent and temporary jobs created with the construction of each data center. Also, the sustainable campus design aligns with local and state government commitments to water conservation, energy efficiency and the proliferation of clean energy consumption.”

Ardent Data Centers

Colocation provider Ardent Data Centers, a company of Germany's Northern Data Group (Frankfurt), has broken ground on construction an upgrade to its Pittsburgh data center to allow for additional power and maximized energy capacity. 

The site was acquired in January 2024. To accelerate Ardent's colocation offering in the U.S., the 41,000 square foot building being upgraded and retrofitted with high-density liquid cooling technology, geared to power advanced HPC workloads, the better to allow for increased energy capacity from 5 MW to 20 MW. 

With the engineering review complete, the upgrade of the 7.5-acre site has begun, the company said in a statement.

The statement added:

"Pittsburgh is a favorable location to support Ardent Data Center's expansion, with supportive local stakeholders. It also has access to an abundance of clean energy from hydroelectric and wind sources. This is aligned to Ardent Data Center's long-term strategy as it continues to pioneer efficient data center environments that give data-intensive organizations optimized performance and availability in the most sustainable way."

Aroosh Thillainathan, Founder and CEO of Northern Data Group, said, ""The continued progress that our Ardent team is making supports Northern Data Group in providing the infrastructure required to fully capitalize on the HPC market."

"Powering the next generation of HPC innovation is central to our strategy, and scaling the Group's portfolio of data centers through Ardent is core to realizing this ambition. These upgrades are an important step as we continue to deliver on our vision for Ardent to become the global operational leader of next-generational high-density and high-performance compute data center solutions."

Tract

Tract has been very busy at the largest scale. Cementing its move into the Reno market, Tract in April announced that it has broken ground on construction of its Peru Shelf Technology Park, an 810 MW data center campus project in Storey County, Nevada. 

Designed to support an influx of hyperscale data center campus construction, the master-planned site will be the fruit of Tract’s horizontal development plans, which include NV Energy switch stations, new access roads, and wet utility infrastructure. 

“The commencement of construction at Peru Shelf launches the first of Tract’s projects in Northern Nevada and I am pleased to see the physical manifestation of our planning,” said Grant van Rooyen, CEO of Tract and founder of U.S. data center company Cologix.

As the need for technology infrastructure continues to expand, the company prides itself on its proactive approach to data center campus development, which it says ensures speed and certainty for customers and aligns interests for all stakeholders. 

Mr. van Rooyen continued, “We see long-term potential for the greater Reno data center cluster to support rapid deployment of cloud and AI data centers. Our investment in master-planned digital infrastructure will continue to scale significantly in the coming years.” 

In October, Tract completed the acquisition of the project's 2,200 acres in Storey County. The company has announced three projects in the region to date:

  • Peru Shelf Technology Park is the first to break ground on 686 acres within the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center and will support up to 810 MWs of utility capacity at full buildout.
  • South Valley Technology Park, 7 miles southeast along USA Parkway, is a planned 1,500 acre / 1,200 MW project supporting up to 7 individual campuses.
  • Tract has also announced 510 acres adjacent to the Peru Shelf project that are currently in a planning stage. 

The Peru Shelf development is expected to receive initial power delivery in late 2026 or early 2027, Tract said. 

The company expects its investment activities will accelerate through 2024, with specific focus on access, wet utility extensions and prep work for switch stations. 

Tract contracted with Westex Geotechnical for engineering services on the Peru Shelf project. It contracted with F&P Construction for initial road and substation grading on the site. 

Tract notes that it owns or is under contract on more than 20,000 acres across the U.S. "which are in various stages of rezoning, design or horizontal construction."

This month, Tract announced that it will build a 2.4 GW data center park outside of Richmond, Virginia.

"Tract is now officially a landowner in The Commonwealth of Virginia," wrote Tract CEO van Rooyen in a LinkedIn post. "We are very pleased to deliver a responsibly planned 1200 acre master data center campus in Hanover County, with a power ramp to 2.4 GW. This effort has taken two years to deliver, with the thorough engagement of both Hanover County and The Commonwealth staff and diligent elected officials." 

Microsoft

Microsoft has announced a $3.3 billion investment in the state of Wisconsin to spur artificial intelligence (AI) technology innovation and economic growth.

The cloud hyperscaler said it will invest the $3.3 billion between now and the end of 2026 to expand its national cloud and AI infrastructure capacity through the development of a state-of-the-art data center campus in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.

Microsoft and the state expect that the new infrastructure will help enable companies in Wisconsin and across the country to develop, deploy and use advanced cloud services and AI applications to grow, modernize and improve their products and enterprises.

Built on the storied bones of the once-promising FoxConn site, the project is expected to bring an influx of 2,300 union construction jobs to the area by 2025, as well as providing long-term employment opportunities over the next several years. 

Along with building the physical data center, Microsoft said it will partner with Gateway Technical College to build a Data Center Academy to train and certify more than 1,000 students in five years to work in the new data center and IT sector jobs created in the area.

“This is a watershed moment for Wisconsin and a critical part of our work to build a 21st-century workforce and economy in the Badger State,” said Governor Tony Evers.

“Microsoft is a blue-chip corporation that recognizes the strength of Wisconsin’s workers, infrastructure, economy, and our quality of life. Microsoft has chosen to locate and invest here because they know the future is here in Wisconsin.”

Microsoft's investments will be rolled out in a four-part strategy designed to create long-term benefits for the state’s economy and job market.

“Wisconsin has a rich and storied legacy of innovation and ingenuity in manufacturing,” said Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of Microsoft.

“We will use the power of AI to help advance the next generation of manufacturing companies, skills and jobs in Wisconsin and across the country. This is what a big company can do to build a strong foundation for every medium, small and start-up company and non-profit everywhere.”

As streamed by NBC News, President Joe Biden announced the new Microsoft AI data center investment at a campaign event in Wisconsin.

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About the Author

Matt Vincent

A B2B technology journalist and editor with more than two decades of experience, Matt Vincent is Editor in Chief of Data Center Frontier.

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