Ohio Town May Offer Free Land for Amazon Data Center

Dublin officials mulling $7.3M incentive package to attract 750,000-square-foot build

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

September 9, 2014

2 Min Read
Ohio Town May Offer Free Land for Amazon Data Center
A road construction project in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo: Dublin’s official Flickr collection)

Municipalities usually go to great lengths in competing to attract large data center construction projects, but officials in one Ohio town are considering a move at the drastic end of the range.

Economic development officials in Dublin, Ohio (a Columbus suburb) have proposed that the city give $6.8 million worth of city-owned land to Amazon-owned Vadata to build an Amazon data center. At a Dublin City Council meeting Monday, economic development staff made a recommendation that the council votes to approve the incentive package on second reading “by emergency,” according to an official memo.

Vadata, a wholly-owned Amazon subsidiary, is interested in the nearly 70-acre parcel of land in Dublin, but the city is competing with other municipalities for the 750,000-square-foot construction project. It will include office, data center and “related facilities.”

The land transfer would be tied to a commitment to build. Amazon will have to start paying for the land if it doesn’t start site preparations within the first year after the deal closes or does not build at least 750,000 square feet before the end of 2024, according to the memo.

An Amazon Web Services spokesperson abstained from commenting on specifics, saying only that the company is always on the hunt for good places to build data centers.

“At AWS, we’re constantly looking for opportunities to expand our geographic coverage in order to provide lower latencies, higher operational efficiencies and additional choice to customers in terms of where they operate their applications and store their data,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Today there are 10 AWS Regions around the world, four of which are in the U.S., and we are constantly evaluating a long list of additional target countries and U.S. locations.”

Dublin has been trying to attract high-tech construction projects very aggressively, its efforts met with success. Just yesterday, colocation and managed services company Expedient announced it had broken ground on a 60,000-square-foot data center construction project in town.

In a statement, Director of Development Dana McDaniel pointed out that the town has also succeeded in attracting and growing a healthcare facilities cluster and other major construction projects. The Vadata data center would help grow the town’s image as an IT industry hub, she said.

“Staff is proposing an Economic Development and Real Estate Purchase Agreement for Council’s consideration as a means to induce Vadata Inc. to invest in, establish and potentially expand operations within the city, providing significant value to the city’s emerging information technology cluster and serving as an additional anchor to the city’s West Innovation District,” McDaniel said.

In addition to the land incentive, the package in front of the Council includes extension of public water infrastructure and sanitary sewer to the site and a 10 percent of tax withholdings for every employee working at the data center, up to $500,000 total over a period of 10 years.

If the council heeds staff’s advice, it will vote on the incentives on September 22.

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