DataBank Grows Beyond its Dallas Digital Fortress


The exterior of the new DataBank North Dallas data center in Richardson, Texas, part of the company’s plan to expand beyond its original site in the former Federal Reserve building in downtown Dallas. (Photo: DataBank)

With Backing From Avista, Expands in Richardson, Minneapolis

databank-vault-smallDALLAS – Housed deep below six floors of humming servers, the two-foot thick vault doors speak to an earlier era for the DataBank building, when it served as the main Federal Reserve Bank office in Dallas. The huge vault doors secured the entrance to the counting room – the place where enormous volumes of cash and coins were catalogued en route to storage in lower basements. Legend has it that the vault was used briefly as a holding area for Lee Harvey Oswald following the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy, which occurred several blocks from the building.

The Federal Reserve moved out in the 1990s, but the counting room lives on as a symbol of the building’s new mission – serving as a digital fortress for high-value assets, but now housing data centers filled with servers and storage gear.

For the DataBank team, the building at 400 South Akard supports a business narrative for the 21st century, with a reputation for security and reliability built atop rock-solid infrastructure.

After eight years in which it has nearly filled 130,000 square feet of data center space in the original DataBank building, the company is extending its model – first in the Dallas metroplex, and then in other cities around the US.

Investment by Avista, Sale to Digital Realty

This year the DataBank team has taken two steps to realize that vision, opening a new data center in Richardson, Texas and acquiring VeriSpace, a data center provider in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The expansion has been supported by a transaction last year in which private equity firm  Avista Capital acquired a majority interest in DataBank, which also sold the 400 South Akard Street property to Digital Realty Trust in a sale-leaseback transaction. Databank also leased a powered shell building from Digital Realty at its Digital Dallas campus in Richardson.

While Databank is looking to its future, the company’s outlook is defined by the South Akard building and its characteristics. The structure was built between 1915 and 1920, and the Federal Reserve Bank opened its doors in 1921, operating at 400 South Akard for more than 70 years before the moving into a new home in the 1990s. The building was acquired by an investment group, and then sold to telco 360networks, which converted an entire floor to data center use before filing for bankruptcy.

In 2005, the new DataBank team acquired the building, having sold their previous company, LayerOne, to Switch and Data. The building’s sturdy infrastructure, including generous floor loads and ceiling heights, provided an unusual opportunity to build the new economy in the footprint of the old.

“This building has the bones of a data center,” said Tim Moore, the CEO of DataBank.

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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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