An entity representing Facebook Inc., on Thursday, closed on the sale of 416 acres that will be developed into a sprawling data center campus.
Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) is expected to invest up to $42 billion over two decades in the server farm at Stanton Springs, a 1,620-acre master-planned development about 30 miles east of Atlanta.
The project in Newton County, first reported Jan. 23, could be the biggest economic development project in Georgia’s history and create several hundred jobs.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal could announce the expansion in about two weeks, a source said.
Metro Atlanta — a top five data center market — is also said to be on the radar of other West Coast Internet behemoths. Amazon and Microsoft are eying metro Atlanta for standalone data centers.
Georgia could soon become even more enticing for massive data center projects. Legislation passed by the state House of Representatives would offer a sales tax exemption for new data centers that invest at least $250 million during the next decade on power infrastructure, such as generators and UPS plants, and the thousands of servers and computer equipment that stores and processes data. The bill is now before the state Senate.
Facebook, which will develop the campus in four phases, would invest nearly $2.5 billion in improvements and equipment through 2029, according to documents obtained by Atlanta Business Chronicle. This amount does not include land acquisition costs or periodic investments in equipment upgrades and replacements.
The social networking behemoth is expected to initially invest $750 million and create up to 100 tech jobs at the data center campus, which will be near biotech Shire’s $1.2 billion manufacturing plant.
Morning Hornet LLC, the entity representing Facebook, closed on the land sale Thursday, reportedly paying about $26 million for the 416 acres.
Facebook data center
Map showing the site of Facebook’s proposed data center campus in Newton county Georgia.
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Metro Atlanta is a data center market with strong growth momentum, Tim Huffman, a senior vice president of Data Center Solutions at real estate services firm CBRE Group Inc. (NYSE: CBG) said earlier this year
“Atlanta has long been overdue for this type of hyper-scale data center development,” Huffman said. “Atlanta is going to become the most prominent emerging data center market.”
With 1.37 billion daily active users, Facebook is the third-busiest site on the internet. Data centers, which can be as large as shopping malls, house tens of thousands of computer servers that share those status updates with your social network.
The Georgia data center could be related to Facebook’s plans to take on Apple and Amazon in the voice assistant wars.
The social media behemoth could be developing its own version of Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The “video chat device,” designed for use in the home, includes a large touchscreen, wide-angle camera, microphones, and speakers, according to Bloomberg. Facebook would need to scale its data center infrastructure to process the billions of queries its voice assistant would receive.
Data center demand is also fueled as social networks build robust messaging platforms. People are using Facebook Messenger, instead of personal email.
CyusOne Inc. Data Centers in San Antonio
Due to strong demand, CyrusOne Inc. is adding two more data centers in San Antonio.
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Demand is growing rapidly in the Atlanta area as traditional data center hubs, such as Northern Virginia, become even pricier. Businesses also want to put their data center operations closer to customers and talent — and the Southeast is witnessing a population boom.
In November, Dallas-based Cyrus One announced plans to develop a $206 million data center in Douglasville, Ga. In May, Las Vegas-based data center operator Switch is expected to enter Atlanta with plans for a $2.5 billion, more than 1 million-square-foot data center campus.
Inexpensive power and real estate are major drivers for the data center industry. Georgia Power is selling power to data centers for 3.5 cents per kwh, down from 5.5 cents per kWh from year ago, Huffman said.
“That puts (Georgia) at rates that would rival the Pacific Northwest and nearly half of Northern Virginia, which is the dominant data center market,” he said.
The cost of land in metro Atlanta is half of that in Northern Virginia, while the cost of living is about 30 percent lower, Huffman said.
The Facebook data center comes as Georgia competes for Amazon.comInc.’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) $5 billion second headquarters. That project, for which Atlanta is considered a favorite, would create up to 50,000 jobs over the next several years.
Georgia is said to have offered more than $ 1 billion in incentives and infrastructure improvements and presented nearly 10 intown and suburban Atlanta sites for Amazon’s HQ2. Downtown Atlanta’s "Gulch" is believed to be the city’s primary site.