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QTS, Georgia Tech Growing Data Center Presence In Georgia

Metro Atlanta's robust data center activity is being fueled by a giant of the industry's expansion in the area, and a vaunted educational institution is already expanding in a high-powered Midtown data center before it opens.

EdgeConneX Vice President Greg Carender, QTS Vice President Alan French and Ascent Data Centers Vice President Brad Pauley at DICE Southeast 2019

Data center giant QTS Realty Trust is seeking approval from the city of Atlanta to expand its massive Westside Midtown data center by at least another 250K SF, according to permits filed with the city.

“We do have additional land to build, and we are moving forward and looking at that,” QTS Vice President Alan French told an audience Tuesday during Bisnow's Data Center Investment Conference & Expo event Tuesday at Carter Validus' 250 Williams St. data center in Downtown Atlanta. “It's a significant site for us."

The all-day event focused on the ins and outs of the burgeoning data center industry in the Southeast, especially in light of recently approved incentives that are aimed to help spur economic development activity in that arena.

French declined to elaborate on QTS' plans for the site other than that unidentified hyperscale users in the facility now expressed interest in growing further. The data center operator has been acquiring properties around its Jefferson Street data center since 2017 for future expansion, the Atlanta Business Chronicle previously reported.

Evoque Data Center Solutions Operations Engineer Leigh Channell, Georgia Tech Director Marissa Jules, PRGX Vice President Andy Green, T5 Data Centers Senior Vice President Robbie Sovie and GIGA Data Centers CEO Jake Ring

Georgia Tech also is planning to expand its megawatt usage at the new data center housed in the Coda mixed-use tower in Midtown thanks to a new grant. The university is working with the National Science Foundation, housing the organization's high-performance computing and storage system that will be used to crunch complex data for astrophysics, biosciences, chemistry and computer science.

As part of its deal with the NSF, Tech has expanded its use of DataBank's 98K SF data center in the Coda tower by 250,000 watts, Georgia Tech Director of Architecture and Infrastructure Marissa Jules said. Tech already uses 2 megawatts at the data center, which can push out nearly 9 megawatts at capacity.

Both deals are evident of a growing demand among data center users in the Metro Atlanta market. Atlanta ranked as the 10th-largest data center market in the U.S. in 2015, and by last year, the region had grown into the seventh-largest, with more than 2M SF of multi-tenant data center capacity.

Thanks to low power rates and a recent tax break approved by Georgia legislators, some experts contend the state could leapfrog in size past other top 10 data center markets in the coming years.

Douglas County Executive Director of Economic Development Chris Pumphrey, Legacy Investing co-founder Daniel English and DataBank CEO Raul Martynek at DICE Southeast 2019

Douglas County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Chris Pumphrey especially championed the low power rates in Metro Atlanta, thanks in large part to competition among power providers, from smaller, local electrical membership networks and even city-run grids on up to Georgia Power itself.

Douglas County has itself been on a data center economic development roll, with both major data center providers Switch and CyrusOne planning new campuses in the county.

“It's a beautiful thing for us,” Pumphrey said. “[Low power rates] creates a sound business environment.”