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Data Centre To Replace Former Toronto Star Printing Facility

The old Toronto Star printing plant is getting a new lease on life as one of the largest wholesale co-location data centres in Canada.

A rendering of DFT's new data centre TOR1 in Toronto

“We’re well along on the project,” DuPont Fabros Technology senior vice president and chief marketing officer Bob O'Keefe said. “It’s an active construction space now. We’re looking at a phased opening with Q4 as the first phase when we start moving clients in.”

DFT purchased the Vaughan building — near the intersection of Highway 400 and 407 — last July for $54.25M. The building had served as a newspaper printing plant since 1992, employing more than 270 full-time and part-time workers.

DFT is making a significant investment in the new facility, dubbed TOR1. 

DFT is building a new state-of-the-art data centre in the Toronto Star's old printing plant.

TOR1 will eventually cover 226K SF over three floors with a critical power capacity of 46 MW. Twenty-three state-of-the-art computer rooms will be built, each over 8K SF.

DFT operates 12 data centres in three major U.S. markets. Current data clients include Microsoft, Facebook, Dropbox and GoDaddy. O’Keefe said his company was attracted to Toronto both for its size and its burgeoning tech industry.

“It’s the fourth-biggest city centre in North America. And it has been making a strong, sustained move towards technology. [Toronto] is very much data-centric and data-driven,” he said.

Converting an old newspaper printing plant was a bit of a leap for DFT.

“We normally build from the ground up,” O’Keefe said. “But when we started looking here, the Toronto Star facility became available. It seemed a good fit.“

O’Keefe said important factors when considering where to build a data centre include power, cooling, connectivity and location. The Toronto building met all of DFT's needs, he said.

TOR1’s location near the downtown, major highways and an international airport was also a plus.

“It’s the ease of access,” said Scott Metcalfe of JLL, DFT's leasing and marketing firm for the project. “Just having a facility that clients can easily get to their data is a plus.”

Scott Metcalfe of JLL, Toronto DFT director of sales and leasing Geoff Ois and Bob O'Keefe, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for DuPont Fabros Technology, at the new data center facility in Toronto

Metcalfe said one crucial component of any good data centre is consistent power. Power outages can play havoc with data.

TOR1 will have built-in power and cooling redundancies in each computer room to deal with any and all power issues, as well as every day, round-the-clock security and maintenance.

“Power on average can go out six times a year,” Metcalfe said. “What we provide is a safe haven.”

O’Keefe said what sets DFT data centres apart is scale and the ability to evolve with time.  

“Many of these companies we deal with like Microsoft and Facebook, they want the ability to scale up. We provide that,” he said.

CORRECTION, MAY 31, 5:56 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story had an incorrect number for the amount DFT is investing in the TOR1 facility. The story has been updated.