Officials in Old Bridge, New Jersey have approved a zoning change that will allow developers to build a huge data center campus that could eventually include up to 1.4 million square feet of data center space. The proposal had been criticized by some local residents and politicians, who questioned the economic development value of data centers.
The developer, Deep Run Corporate Campus LLC, want to build four 350,000 square foot data centers on 300 acres of land within the Crossroads property, which is owned by Old Bridge township. The huge project hopes to attract Wall Street financial firms seeking backup data centers for storage and disaster recovery.
In a meeting Monday, the township council voted to amend the redevelopment plan for the Crossroads site to allow data centers. "It looks like we actually have the prospect of providing tax relief," Township Council President Pat Gillespie told local media. "We'd be foolish not to pursue it and see where it leads us."
Other residents questioned whether data centers would have any meaningful impact on the township's tax base, as had been suggested by some backers of the Deep Run project. Dr. Anita Greenberg, a former Planning Board member, cited precedents from data center developments in the New Jersey towns of Secaucus and Piscataway. "Their taxes didn't go down, so I want to know why you think our taxes are going to go down because of the data centers," Greenberg said.
Old Bridge is a Middlesex County town located about 40 miles from lower Manhattan, providing adequate distance to be unaffected by most disaster scenarios in New York, yet close enough to allow real-time data mirroring. The premium data center space would cost an estimated $1,000 per square foot to build, bringing the potential cost of the project to $1.4 billion.
The only two Republicans on the nine-person council, Richard Greene and Lucille Panos, both voted against the ordinance. "If you think we need tax relief, give me something I can smile about," said Greene. "Give me real tax relief instead of three stupid, ugly buildings."
Councilman Kevin Calogera said the data center campus brings benefits to the township without the overhead of other projects. "You don't get traffic, you don't get kids [and] they bring in a lot of money," said Calogera. "There's really a lot of promise here. I think this is something that's long overdue."