BlackChamber Group is a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm, which was founded in 2019 by Chuck Fiala, Conley Patton, and Derek van Dijkum and has, to-date, been making substantial investments in land for the purposes of data center development in Northern Virginia. More specifically, within Northern Virginia, BlackChamber has acquired land in both Loudoun County, including in Arcola, Sterling, and Leesburg, as well as Prince William County, with sites in Gainesville.
Below is a summary of BlackChamber Group’s ongoing and deferred development projects in Northern Virginia’s two dominant counties for data centers – Loudoun and Prince William. In total, BlackChamber is seeking to develop over 300 acres of land and has spent over $400m to acquire its initial parcels, in multiple locations:
|Tech Park at Brambleton||Loudoun||89.1||$96.5m||$1.08m|
|Dulles 28 Technology Park||Loudoun||39.8||$57.0m||$1.43m|
|Dulles 28 Centre Motorplex||Loudoun||11.0||$23.0m||$2.09m|
|Paragon Park Lot 3B||Loudoun||49.7||$135m||$2.71m|
|Tuscarora Crossing Landbay 3||Loudoun||37.6||$64.0m||$1.70m|
|Village Place Technology Park||Prince William||45.5||$31.1m||$0.68m|
|John Marshall Commons Tech Park||Prince William||22.5||$16.4m||$0.73m|
|Dulles 2000 Redevelopment*||Loudoun||29.1||n.a.||—|
|Total / Average||—||324.3||$423m||$1.43m|
BlackChamber Group – Data Centers in Northern Virginia
BlackChamber Group is pursuing the development of single-tenant data center powered shells, which are targeted to be leased to hyperscale technology companies (e.g., cloud service providers) under long-term, triple-net leases. Ultimately, the firm intends to sell these data center shell assets, once leased, at prices that reflect their intrinsic value (i.e., at cap rates of less than or equal to 4%).
Much of BlackChamber Group’s data center experience in Northern Virginia has come from former executives of Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), a publicly-traded (NYSE: OFC) real estate investment trust (REIT). Specifically, COPT owns, manages, leases, and develops data center properties, particularly powered shells in Northern Virginia, where its largest data center customer is Amazon Web Services (AWS).
To this end, BlackChamber’s Charles (Chuck) Fiala and William (Bill) Matarazzo previously held the following positions at COPT:
- Chuck Fiala: Senior Vice President, Government Services at Corporate Office Properties Trust
- Bill Matarazzo: Vice President Development and Construction at Corporate Office Properties Trust
In addition, BlackChamber Group’s team is led by Conley Patton, a former Director in Credit Suisse’s Investment Banking division and Derek van Dijkum who held positions at both COPT (Vice President – Head of Investments) and Credit Suisse (REIT Equity Research Analyst). Finally, BlackChamber is supported by Michael Armm who was previously a Data Center Site Selection Manager at Facebook (now Meta Platforms).
As of December 31, 2021, BlackChamber Group had, on a discretionary basis, $763.2m of assets under management (AUM). The firm’s principal investment vehicle is the BlackChamber Real Estate Opportunity Fund and its fundraise was supported by Hodes Weill, a placement agent. Notably, Howard Roth is both an Advisory Board Member to BlackChamber Group and Hodes Weill.
In addition, BlackChamber manages two co-investment vehicles, BC Co-Invest CTP-I, LP and BC Co-Invest Paragon Park Lot 3B, LP – both of which provide incremental equity capital for certain data center development projects (described in further detail below).
Through its fundraising efforts, BlackChamber Group has secured prominent Limited Partners (LPs) for its inaugural real estate opportunity fund. Particularly, these LPs include:
- State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB): $100m commitment in March 2020
- Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF): $55m commitment in June 2020
- Employees Retirement System (ERS) of Texas: $37.5m commitment in April 2020
Below is further detail on the Northern Virginia data center properties that BlackChamber Group is investing this newly raised capital into. Presently, BlackChamber has acquired or is a contract purchaser for these land sites and is navigating the zoning and entitlement process to ultimately construct data center facilities.
Tech Park at Brambleton – BlackChamber Group
BlackChamber Group’s Tech Park at Brambleton site comprises 89.1 acres located northeast of the intersection of Belmont Ridge Road (Route 659) and Arcola Mills Drive (Route 621) on the east side of Belmont Ridge Road and on the south side of Evergreen Mills Road in Arcola, Loudoun County, Virginia.
Below is a map of the broader site, which was previously controlled by Soave Enterprises / Brambleton Group, prior to BlackChamber’s purchase. Presently, BlackChamber owns only a portion of this land parcel, on the east side of Belmont Ridge Road and south of the Broad Run.
The property is situated in an area of Loudoun County that is served by key fiber-optic connections and access to power and water. Additionally, the site lies to the east of the Dominion Power Brambleton Substation and to the west of data centers, both existing and under construction, which are on the north and south side of Arcola Mills Drive.
On the Tech Park at Brambleton land, BlackChamber Group could potentially develop up to 2 million sqft of data center space. Additionally, with regards to the broader site, a maximum of five data center buildings may be constructed on the east side of Belmont Ridge Road.
On March 18, 2022, BlackChamber Group, through the entity Tech Park At Brambleton LLC, acquired four parcels of land, totaling 89.1 acres, located at 23844 to 23896 Belmont Ridge Road in Arcola, Virginia. Particularly, BlackChamber purchased this land, through four separate transactions, for $96.5m, implying a valuation of $1.08m per acre. The seller was Soave Enterprises / Brambleton Group through multiple entities including BG South LLC and 659 Associates LLC.
Dulles 28 Technology Park – BlackChamber Group
Dulles 28 Technology Park’s land was owned by Lerner Enterprises. However, BlackChamber Group became the contract purchaser and applicant seeking to rezone this land for the purposes of developing data centers and other industrial use types. By March 2022, Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors approved a zoning map amendment for the Dulles 28 Technology Park project.
Subsequently, on May 10, 2022, BlackChamber Group, through the entities Long Drive Land Company LLC and Club Stub LLC, acquired the land from Dulles 28 Associates LLLP, an entity controlled by Lerner Enterprises. More specifically, BlackChamber bought 39.8 acres, across 9 parcels of land, located at addresses including 45128, 45130, and 45136 Waxpool Road in Sterling, Virginia. In terms of price, BlackChamber purchased this land for $57.0m, implying a valuation of $1.43m per acre.
Site and Development Plan
The Dulles 28 Technology Park site comprises 39.8 acres located at the northwest quadrant of the intersection of Waxpool Road (Route 625) and Pacific Boulevard (Route 1036), on the south side of Auto World Circle in Sterling, Loudoun County, Virginia. Additionally, as shown below, the site is positioned east of the 1757 Golf Club.
On the Dulles 28 Technology Park land, BlackChamber Group is able to develop 685.4k sqft of data center and other PD-IP uses, under the following two distributions:
- Landbay 1: up to 531.1k sqft of data center uses
- Landbay 2: up to 154.3k sqft of other PD-IP (Planned Development – Industrial Park) district uses
Expanding Around the Dulles 28 Technology Park Site
Next to the Dulles 28 Technology Park site, BlackChamber Group has purchased two additional land parcels, known as Dulles 28 Centre Motorplex and Paragon Park Lot 3B. As shown below, Dulles 28 Technology Park is outlined in red with hashed lines, while Dulles 28 Centre Motorplex is signified as (1) and Paragon Park Lot 3B is indicated as (2).
Both the Dulles 28 Centre Motorplex and Paragon Park Lot 3B sites reside on either side of Paragon Park, which is located at 21641 Charles View Drive in Sterling, Virginia, and is owned by Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), through the entity Cabin Branch Creek LLC. Recall that COPT was the former employer of a number of BlackChamber Group’s key executives.
(1) Dulles 28 Centre Motorplex
On August 5, 2021, BlackChamber Group, through the entity Dulles 28 Centre Lot 2A LLC, acquired 11.0 acres of land located behind Auto World Circle in Sterling, Loudoun County, Virginia. Specifically, BlackChamber purchased this land for $23.0m, signifying a valuation of $2.1m per acre. The seller was Leesburg Imports, LLC, a subsidiary of AutoNation (NYSE: AN), an automotive retailer.
(2) Paragon Park Lot 3B
On October 15, 2021, BlackChamber Group, through the entity Paragonpark Lot 3B LLC, acquired 49.7 acres of land located on the east side of Pacific Boulevard (Route 1036), west of Route 28, north of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail, and south of West Severn Way (Route 1748) in Sterling, Loudoun County, Virginia. Particularly, BlackChamber purchased this land for $135m, inferring a valuation of $2.7m per acre. The seller was Eugenia Investments Inc, an entity controlled by Gregory Stassinopoulos and Panos Kanes.
Tuscarora Crossing Landbay 3 – BlackChamber Group
BlackChamber Group’s Tuscarora Crossing Landbay 3 site comprises 37.6 acres located southeast of the intersection of Crosstrail Boulevard and the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail in Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia. More specifically, the site is bound to the north by the future alignment of Crosstrail Boulevard, an electric substation to the southeast, the W&OD Trail to the east, and undeveloped land to the south and west.
Site and Development Plan
On the Tuscarora Crossing Landbay 3 parcel, BlackChamber Group is seeking to develop 701.4k sqft of data center uses distributed across 3, two-story buildings. As shown below, each facility would comprise 233.8k sqft of gross floor area (GFA).
On November 19, 2021, BlackChamber Group, through the entity Tuscarora Landbay 3 LLC, acquired 37.6 acres of land located at the intersection of Crosstrail Boulevard and the W&OD Trail in Leesburg, Virginia. Particularly, BlackChamber purchased this land for $64.0m, implying a valuation of $1.70m per acre. The seller was DMM Tuscarora LLC, an entity controlled by Capretti Land, Inc., whose ultimate beneficiary is Michael Capretti.
Prince William County – BlackChamber Group
BlackChamber Group owns two neighboring land parcels, which together comprise 67.9 acres, located at the intersection of John Marshall Highway (Route 55) and Catharpin Road in Gainesville, Prince William County, Virginia. Specifically, BlackChamber’s two Northern Virginia parcels are distributed as follows:
- Village Place Technology Park: 45.5 acres which BlackChamber Group is seeking to rezone for the purposes of constructing data center uses with 1.19 million sqft across 4, two-story buildings
- John Marshall Commons Tech Park: 22.5 acres which BlackChamber Group is seeking to rezone for the purposes of constructing data center uses with 643k sqft across 2, two-story buildings
On its two land parcels in Gainesville, BlackChamber Group could potentially develop up to 210 megawatts of power capacity across 1 million sqft of data center space.
Village Place Technology Park
On July 15, 2021, BlackChamber Group, through the entity CTP-I LLC, acquired 45.5 acres of land located at the intersection of John Marshall Highway (Route 55) and Catharpin Road in Gainesville, Virginia. Specifically, BlackChamber purchased this land for $31.1m, signifying a valuation of $684k per acre. The seller was Gainesville Village Place, L.C.
John Marshall Commons Tech Park
On December 15, 2021, BlackChamber Group, through the entity CTP-II LLC, acquired 22.5 acres of land located at the intersection of John Marshall Highway (Route 55) and Catharpin Road in Gainesville, Virginia. Particularly, BlackChamber purchased this land for $16.4m, inferring a valuation of $730k per acre. The seller was Gainesville 66, L.C., an entity controlled by Joseph Contrucci.
Dulles 2000 Redevelopment – Deferred
Dulles 2000 Redevelopment’s land is owned by the Tower Companies through the entity Dulles East VIII Limited Partship, LLC. The Tower Companies manages over 6 million sqft of commercial real estate in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with an additional 13 million sqft in its development pipeline (such as this property). At present, Gary, Ronald, and Jeffrey Abramson control the Tower Companies.
Once again, BlackChamber Group, through the entity BCG JV Sterling LLC, was the applicant seeking to rezone this land for the purposes of developing data centers. On this application, BlackChamber was partnering with Phil Tager, Head of US Real Estate at Global Gate Capital. Overall, Global Gate is a Geneva, Switzerland-headquartered real estate investor and private equity firm with over $4.5bn of assets under management (AUM).
Site and Development Plan
The Dulles 2000 Redevelopment site comprises a total of 29.1 acres, however, a zoning concept plan amendment was only sought for 23.7 acres of the property. This property is situated east of Route 28, west of Shaw Road (Route 636), south of Old Ox Road (Route 606), and north of Innovation Avenue (Route 209) in Sterling, Loudoun County, Virginia.
As shown below, the property lies immediately west of a former stone quarry, owned by Loudoun Quarries, and a Virginia Paving Company asphalt distribution facility. On the west side of Route 28 is the Capital Rail project’s construction yard and an employee parking lot for Dulles International Airport.
On the Dulles 2000 Redevelopment land, BlackChamber Group was seeking to develop 530k sqft of data center uses distributed across two buildings, resulting in a 0.44 floor area ratio (FAR). As outlined in the project’s concept development plan below, each of these data center buildings would comprise 265k sqft.
Additionally, each data center building was anticipated to use between 30 megawatts and 60 megawatts of power capacity. Finally, these data centers were estimated to provide tax benefits to Loudoun County of $91.3m over a 10-year period, comprised of $19.5m from real estate taxes and $71.8m from personal property taxes.
Deferral of Application
As of mid-2021, BlackChamber and Global Gate requested for the deferral until a later date of their zoning concept plan amendment application. This was a result of the application not receiving approval from Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors. Rationale for the Board’s decision centered on data center use being in direct conflict with the planned land use and design characteristics of the Urban Transit Center (UTC) place type designated for this area.