Compass Datacenters, a hyperscale data center developer and operator in the United States and Canada, through its entity Compass Datacenters IAD I LLC and via a project named True North Data, is requesting consent from Loudoun County to modify the previously approved concept development plan (CDP) on its 97-acre site in the Northern Virginia sub-market of Leesburg. Specifically, Compass Datacenters’ campus, which is branded as Loudoun County I, is expected to ultimately comprise over 75 megawatts of power capacity across 625k sqft, at full build-out.
As part of Compass Datacenters’ proposal, the company is seeking to i) eliminate two building footprints, ii) increase the site’s open space, iii) allow for the option to consolidate three previously approved buildings into one building, and iv) increase the maximum height of this one consolidated building.
True North Data – Loudoun County – Background
Originally, Compass Datacenters’ modifications to its True North Data project were scheduled for Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on February 10, 2021. However, Compass deferred this hearing, citing in a letter to Loudoun County’s staff that the reason for the delay was to “secure a tenant for the campus”.
Subsequently, Compass’ proposal was re-scheduled for Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on March 9, 2022, however, as Phyllis Randall, Chair At-Large of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors stated: “By request of the applicant, Item #8, ZCPA-2020-0003, the True North Data center item has been deferred to the April 13, 2022, Board of Supervisors Public Hearing”.
Overall, Compass Datacenters’ development plan modifications and multiple hearing deferrals expose a broader issue for the True North Data project – that of public opposition to this massive data center development. Indeed, public comments regarding the True North Data application on the Loudoun Online Land Application System (LOLA) reflect concern with the:
- Visual impact from the proposed height increases of the data center buildings, which are next to a State-designated scenic river
- Compatibility with adjacent properties, which are predominantly residential
- Loss of open space – which Compass has sought to mitigate through its most recent development plan modifications
Ahead of Compass Datacenters’ re-scheduled public hearing for True North Data, in April 2022, Dgtl Infra reviews the details of Compass’ data center development project in Leesburg, Virginia.
True North Data – Leesburg, Virginia – Compass Datacenters
Compass Datacenters’ 97-acre True North Data site is located at 42311 Thunderball Drive in Leesburg, Virginia. Particularly, this land parcel is situated between Sycolin Road (Route 625) and the Dulles Greenway (Route 267) and on the west side of Goose Creek.
As shown above and below, the site has been partially cleared and construction of a one-story data center building has commenced. Additionally, some landscaping has been installed and a portion of a sidewalk has been constructed.
Compass Datacenters refers to this data center campus as Loudoun County I and lists the property at an adjacent address of 20632 Sycolin Road in Leesburg, Virginia. Presently, this existing data center is described by Compass as a one-story, 6-megawatt facility.
Downsizing and Layout Reconfiguration
Compass Datacenters’ site is approved for the development of 750k sqft of data center space across 9 separate buildings, as shown below:
True North Data – Approved Concept Development Plan (CDP)
However, Compass is requesting to modify its development plan to eliminate the two building footprints located closest to the Dulles Greenway. In turn, this modification would increase the site’s open space from 64 acres to 71 acres and decrease the development’s data center space by 125k sqft, from 750k sqft to 625k sqft.
Additionally, Compass is seeking to modify its development plan to allow for the option of developing three of the buildings as either three separate buildings (see below left) or one single building (see below right).
True North Data – Proposed Concept Development Plans (CDPs)
Under a three-building layout, these buildings would be limited to a 35-foot maximum building height. Whereas in a one-building layout, the limit would be increased to a 56-foot maximum building height, enabling a two-story data center to be built.
While the proposed building is internal to the site and not directly adjacent to the Dulles Greenway and Sycolin Road, public opposition has indicated that the building would be visible from Goose Creek, which is a State-designated scenic river. To this end, Compass notes that its proposal to remove two building footprints will provide more open space on-site and will help offset the visual impacts of this 21-foot building height increase.
NOVEC (Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative) will provide power to Compass Datacenters’ site in Leesburg, Virginia. More specifically, Compass notes that power will be sourced from high voltage-fed substations with new underground infrastructure.
Compass Datacenters’ property is served by an existing fiber optic network that connects to the MAE-East internet exchange point (IXP). Additionally, the campus has three diverse dark fiber paths and an intra-campus pathway. In terms of fiber providers, the site is served by SummitIG, Comcast, DF&I (Dark Fiber & Infrastructure), and Verizon.
Compass Datacenters – Overview
Compass Datacenters’ existing and planned campuses include major data center markets such as Phoenix (Goodyear), Arizona; Leesburg, Virginia; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Toronto, Canada; and Montreal, Canada. Additionally, the company operates in secondary U.S. markets including Tulsa, Oklahoma; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; and Boston, Massachusetts.