Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Data storage facility proposed in Palm Beach County

Data Driven

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.”

Business Briefs

BOCA RATON — SunPass callcenter company Faneuil laid off 158 along with 268 in Orlando after Xerox won a Florida Department of Transportation contract to consolidate back-office SunPass operations. » Broward car dealer Phil Smith and his wife, Susan, gave $5 million to start the Phil Smith Center for Free Enterprise at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business, his alma mater. The college’s main tower will be named Phil Smith Hall.

DELRAY BEACH — Vitas Healthcare opened its Vitas Healthcare Inpatient Center, its first hospice unit built from the ground up and its second facility in Palm Beach County. Vitas projects it will serve 550 patients a year.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Citrix Systems canceled plans to spin off its conferencing GoToMeeting business and instead merged it with the smaller Boston-based LogMeIn in a $1.8-billion, allstock deal scheduled to close next year. Citrix shareholders will own about half the new workplace technology company, which will be headed by Log- MeIn’s CEO. Citrix is restructuring. » Port Everglades, Broward County’s seaport, began testing passport control kiosks with Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean to expedite entry into the United States, the first port to do so, although the kiosks are in many airports. » Former Robovault President Susan D. McGregor bought the company’s fine arts services business to launch Bellissima Luxury & Fine Art Services, an art-handling, installation, moving, storage and shipping company that continues to operate out of RoboVault’s facility near Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport.

JUPITER — Scripps Florida laid off 14 employees.

PALM BEACH — Netscape founder Jim Clark listed his ocean-to-lake estate for $137 million. He bought the five-acre property in 1999 and made significant improvements to it. Meanwhile, the Ziff family estate in Manalapan is for sale for $195 million.

RIVIERA BEACH — The city council, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency board overseeing the marina redevelopment project, by a 3-1 vote fired CRA executive director Tony Brown, who had been chosen for the post in 2010 after his predecessor was fired. Scott Evans, the CRA director of planning and development, was chosen to replace Brown.

WEST PALM BEACH — Vision Group Holdings, which operates the Lasik Vision Institute and TLC Laser Eye Centers brands, opened its new headquarters.

PORT ST. LUCIE — The city sold the former Liberty Medical building to an investor who leased it to call-center company Teleperformance, which is hiring 600 employees.

Innovation Candidate Review

Boca Raton startup Candidate.Guru offers a service to help companies avoid hiring mistakes in the $50,00- to-$250,000 annual salary range. Founded by former executive recruiter Chris Daniels along with co-founder tech sales executive Steve Carter, the company ranks job candidates by cultural fit with a prospective employer and manager. It analyzes data across thousands of variables such as tenure at a former employer, hobbies, interests and other data for both the candidate and manager. It then ranks the candidates. The company has five full-time employees and four part-timers or contractors and is generating revenue from its platform launched in January.



» Roland Smith, CEO of Boca Raton-based Office Depot, will retire once the company chooses a successor. The company also announced executive vice president for retail Troy Rice will become COO North America. Rob Koch, senior vice president for real estate, gets the newly created post of executive vice president for business development.

» Boca Raton Regional Hospital hired H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and University of South Florida neurosurgeon Dr.Frank D. Vrionis as director of its Marcus Neuroscience Institute. Vrionis was chief of neurosurgery at Moffitt and professor of neurosurgery, orthopedics and oncology at USF.