- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

Leonia, N.J.-based computer processing firm Infocrossing Inc., like most technology companies, operates in super-fast "Internet time."
So when the company decided to build a "data center" in the technology-rich Washington area this year, it put the project on the fast track.
Data centers are fortress-like facilities that house heavy technology equipment. They usually feature thick walls and sophisticated wiring to protect the machinery inside from bad weather and power outages.
Fortunately for Infocrossing, a Rockville developer had recently broken ground on a data center in Loudoun County, even though the builder had not signed a tenant for the facility.
Infocrossing leaped at the chance to lease the 54,000-square-foot building, and signed on as its sole tenant in July.
The company expects to occupy the space by late September. By leasing a so-called speculative data center already under construction, Infocrossing was able to cut in half the time it would have taken to start developing a center from scratch.
The facility will feature 18-inch thick walls, no windows and a roof that can sustain 152 mile-per-hour winds, according to John Germanotta, vice president of Infocrossing's Internet data centers division.
In addition, it will have dual power sources since the company can't afford for its equipment to lose power, Mr. Germanotta said.
"This is the kind of secure facility our customers demand," he said.
DataCentersNow, a division of Beco Management Inc. in Rockville, is building the center. The company is also developing a 110,000-square-foot speculative data center in Prince William County, which it plans to complete by December.
Though data centers are the latest trend in Washington real estate, DataCentersNow is one of only a few developers building the facilities on a speculative basis.
One reason more builders aren't developing speculative centers is because they are expensive, according to Lewis E. Shadle, vice president of San Jose, Calif.-based developer U.S. Data Port Inc.
The most sophisticated data centers can cost as much as $700 a square foot to build, more than twice the amount of a typical office building, Mr. Shadle said.
Despite the expense, he said speculative data centers aren't risky.
"There is demand for a quality product [that can be occupied] within 30 days," he said.
U.S. Data Port began in January and plans to develop a series of data center campuses across the country, including a 200-acre, 2 million-square-foot campus in Northern Virginia.
Mr. Shadle would not disclose the location of the campus, but said some of the centers in the campus will be built on a speculative basis.
Data centers are driving the boom in new flex space in metropolitan Washington, according to researchers in the D.C. office of Trammel Crow Co. A flex space can be used for offices, manufacturing or data centers.
In Northern Virginia, for example, 287,089 square feet of flex and industrial space were built during the first six months of 2000, compared with 158,869 of space during all of 1999.
Prince William is one popular destination for data centers.
At least three centers have been built or are planned in the county, including the 85,000-square-foot project announced by Providence, R.I.-based Gilbane Properties Inc. last week.
D.C. officials have also targeted data centers for the technology corridor the District wants to develop along New York Avenue in Northeast. At least two centers are planned in that area, officials said.

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