Apple’s Most Expensive Acre

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One of the major benefits cited for building data centers in rural areas is the lower cost of land. Real estate comes at a premium in major cities, while land is much cheaper in rural areas with abundant open space and modest business activity. These factors allowed Yahoo to acquire land for its new data center in Lockport, N.Y. at a cost of about $8,000 an acre.

But the “location, location, location” rule sometimes works in the landowner’s favor, even in places like Maiden, North Carolina. That was the case for Apple, which wound up paying a local couple $1.7 million for a 1-acre tract adjacent to its new data center project in Maiden. Donnie and Kathy Fulbright had lived for 34 years on the site they purchased for $6,000, and were in no hurry to sell.

Apple raised its price until the Fulbrights changed their mind, and Bloomberg reports that the windfall sale allowed the couple to purchase a nearby 49-acre property that “boasts a 4,200-square-foot house with a Jacuzzi in the master bathroom, as well as a man-made pond stocked with bass and catfish.”

Sure, it’s an expensive acre. But Apple expects to invest more than $1 billion in construction and equipment for the 500,000 square foot iDataCenter, which is seen as a key component of Apple’s cloud computing strategy. It’s likely that the cost of acquiring the Fulbrights’ property would have come up during site selection, although perhaps not at the eventual sale price. What was the alternative? Headlines screaming “LOCAL COUPLE DERAILS $1 BILLION PROJECT”?

Think of the catfish pond as a necessary expense in the shift to cloud computing.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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