Prairie Bunkers Seen for Nebraska Ammo Sites

Prairie Bunkers LLC is planning to convert World War II ammunition bunkers near Hastings, Nebraska into data centers.

Prairie Bunkers LLC hopes to convert World War II ammo bunkers in Nebraska (pictured above, with artist visualization) into a series of 5,000 square foot data centers.

A Nebraska company is planning to convert World War II ammunition bunkers into data centers, hoping to capitalize on interest in ultra-secure data storage and the Midwest's recent gains as a destination for mission-critical sites.

Prairie Bunkers LLC will unveil its project tomorrow in Hastings, Nebraska, with  Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman  scheduled to be on hand. The project features 184 World War II naval ammunition storage bunkers, which Prairie Bunkers is offering to customers for conversion into ultra-secure high-density data centers.

The bunkers were part of the Naval Ammunition Depot built to manufacture and store munitions during World War II. Each 5,000 square foot bunker has concrete walls and is bermed with earth on three sides.

Prairie Bunkers is a partnership between San Francisco firm Hultquist Capital and Great Plains Data Center Builders, an Omaha-based engineering firm that has built more than 70 data centers.

Prairie Bunkers CEO Pam Brown, a former Nebraska state senator, cited Yahoo's recent decision to build a major data center in Omaha as a positive indicator. "Interest from corporate and colocation data center sponsors in Nebraska sites for new data centers is strong and our welcome mat is out," said Brown.

Dave Pettengill, who is a principal in both Prairie Bunkers and Great Plains Data Center Builders, said the low power cost, geothermal cooling capabilities and the availability of wind, hydro, and nuclear energy are factors that will attract corporate interest.

Company chairman Gary Hultquist says Prairie Bunkers is seeking an investor to develop one of the 5,000 square foot bunkers as a colocation business and proof of concept, with subsequent bunkers developed on a build-to-suit basis. Hultquist said the project has interest from Fortune 1000 companies, U.S. government agencies and colocation providers.

The 760 acre Hastings site has a power substation on the property. The local power provider is South Central Public Power District (SCPPD). SCPPD is a wholesale customer of Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), which has a diverse generation mix that includes nuclear, wind and hydro.

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