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88-Acre Data Center Campus Proposed In Emerging Northern Virginia County

Another plot of agricultural land in Culpeper County, Virginia, may soon be rezoned for data centers as the industry spreads out from its Loudoun County epicenter. 

The 88-acre site in Culpeper County that is the subject of a rezoning proposal for data center use.

A landowner in the town of Brandy Station is seeking to rezone 88 acres to allow the development of a data center campus, according to the Culpeper Star-Exponent. A proposal presented to county officials last week outlined the initial phase of development at the proposed Brandy Station Technology Park as 700K SF of data center space split over three buildings, but the full capacity of a campus on the future site could be in the millions of square feet.

While the rezoning application comes on the heels of a controversial approval of an Amazon Web Services data center in Culpeper County, the property owner behind the Brandy Station proposal — David Martin — said his attempt to rezone the land is purely speculative. He said during a presentation to county officials last week he has no experience developing data centers and plans to sell the property once a builder is found.  

“We don’t have a builder ready to break ground,” Martin said during the presentation, according to the Star-Exponent. “The main goal is to prepare this property to get the interest of data center builders.”

According to Martin’s proposal, a data center campus on the site would also require the construction of an electrical substation on or adjacent to the property. The land sits close to Dominion Energy transmission lines and fiber networks, but a lack of water and sewer on the site limits the kind of data center systems that could be operated at a future facility.

A study Martin submitted to the county indicates that the 88-acre plot, once developed to full capacity, could contain as much as 4M SF of server space, although the Star-Exponent reports that Martin told county officials the actual build-out on the site would almost certainly be far less.

Culpeper County is about 50 miles from the data center capital of Loudoun County and is increasingly drawing the attention of the industry. As land has become scarcer in Loudoun, developers are looking to nearby counties like Prince William and Culpeper, where swaths of previously rural land would need to be rezoned to allow data centers to be built. Such proposed developments have proven controversial and have kicked off heated legal battles across the region.  

In Culpeper, six landowners are asking a Virginia court to overturn an April decision by the county’s Board of Supervisors to rezone a 230-acre property currently in use as a horse farm from agricultural to light industrial use to make way for an AWS data center. An Amazon subsidiary plans to build a pair of six-story data centers, a 12-acre power station and new power lines on the site. But in their suit, nearby landowners say the board’s decision illegally spot zones the property in violation of local and state law, runs counter to the county’s 2015 comprehensive zoning plan, and is out of character with what has until now been a rural district with a number of significant Civil War historic sites. 

It remains unclear whether the proposed Brandy Station Technology Park will face similar pushback. Unlike the AWS project, the 88-acre property sits in an area previously slated for technology development by county planners.