Cushman & Wakefield to Pitch Huge Colorado Energy Park for Data Center Use

Developers say Niobrara Energy Development can become world's largest microgrid

Michael Vizard

May 1, 2015

2 Min Read
Cushman & Wakefield to Pitch Huge Colorado Energy Park for Data Center Use
Construction crews lay fiber infrastructure at the Niobrara Data Center Energy Park in Colorado in 2012. The park is being positioned as an optimal location for on-site renewable energy. (Source: Harrison Resource Corp.)

The owner of a large parcel of real estate in Colorado that could potentially serve as a site for clusters of data centers is now soliciting bids for what is described as a shovel-ready energy and development property that has the potential to become one of the world’s largest microgrids, or electrical grids that can operate independently of large utility grids.

Commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield has been named exclusive agent for Niobrara Energy Development, a 662-acre property in Northern Colorado that is described as being an ideal data center location for cloud-scale facilities. The developer behind the project is Loveland, Colorado-based Harrison Resource Corp., which has been marketing the site since 2012.

Sean Ivery, senior director for Cushman & Wakefield, says that in addition to a friendly corporate tax environment in Colorado, the site is located on an unincorporated parcel of land. There’s also access to high-voltage power lines carrying electricity generated by low-cost natural gas, and fiber optic lines connected to 21 carriers run directly through the property. The site has access to all its own water rights.

“There are a number of industries that would be interested,” Ivery says. “But the property has all the ingredients for a data center cluster.”

Similar data center clusters have recently popped up in Colorado Springs, Phoenix, eastern Washington, and southern Oregon. In addition, Ivery notes that just across the river from NED, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is a number of data center facilities.

Cheyenne is home to a massive Microsoft data center. Several data center providers also have smaller facilities in the area, including Cobalt and Green House Data.

Preparing a development site with plenty of access to energy, fiber infrastructure and securing all the necessary planning permissions in hopes of attracting companies shopping around for data center locations is a common developer strategy. One recent example is the Reno Technology Park in Nevada, which now boast a large and growing Apple data center campus.

NED is the latest example of real estate developers looking to cash in on the ongoing build-out of data center facilities, and developers behind this site are going big.

The site is zoned for 52 energy and data center uses. Energy-related zoning includes up to 50 megawatts of solar, geothermal and wind, unlimited energy storage, as well as up to 650 megawatts of natural gas plants and fuel-cell power plants.

There’s a lot of fierce competition between cities, states, and countries for data center construction projects. While thanks to automation these facilities don’t generate as many IT jobs as they once might have, the construction of these facilities alone often represents a major boon to local economies that goes well beyond the number of people actually working inside any given data center.

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