Southeast Florida Roundup
Data storage facility proposed in Palm Beach County
An investors group wants to develop a major data storage facility.
In the age of the cloud, Netflix and online everything, much of the data generated and used in Florida resides in huge data centers in other states. Now, an investor-led group wants to develop a massive data center — ultimately totaling 1.2 million square feet — on the western fringe of developed Palm Beach County.
It’s an ambitious project. By comparison, one of the larger data centers in Florida, Verizon’s NAP of the Americas in downtown Miami, is 750,000 square feet.
Investor group PBA Holdings is half-owner of Palm Beach Aggregates, a company that has mined 3,000 acres near 20-Mile Bend on Southern Boulevard for decades. The bend marks the transition from urban Palm Beach County to farmland. PBA believes its 138- acre site is ideally suited for a data center because it’s situated on relatively high ground — raised by fill deposited from building a nearby reservoir — and is next door to an FPL plant, practically guaranteeing uninterrupted power.
County commissioners earlier this year approved regulatory changes to make the company’s Central Park of Commerce project possible, allowing 2 million square feet of construction, which would include the data center. The approval came over the concerns of environmental groups, which argued that the development violates a longstanding practice of limiting development west of the L-8 canal. The county, as recently as 2014, rejected Palm Beach Aggegates’ plan to develop the area with 2. 7 million square feet of light industrial space after environmental groups objected it would open farm areas to development.
PBA Holdings says the power plant, which also lies west of the canal and immediately west of where the company wants to develop, is the true dividing line and sees the PBA project as merely infill between the canal and power plant. Now, PBA faces the task of landing users for the site. PBA Holdings attorney Ernie Cox says the company is in talks with a number of companies, but says it’s too early to disclose their identities. “We’re trying to compete with major data center sites to bring a company to Florida,” Cox says. “This would be a great industry for Florida to attract.”
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