QTS has refiled its plans for a massive data center campus in Virginia’s Prince William County. The company is one of two alongside Compass looking to develop more than 20 million sq ft of data centers as part of the PW Digital Gateway project.
Blackstone-owned QTS originally filed a rezoning application in July 2022, but this month refiled with an updated application providing more detail. Compass also refiled its application this month.
The first application – Digital Gateway South – has been updated to request 342 acres be rezoned from A-1 Agricultural to PBD (Planned Business Development). The previous application requested 341 acres. The second application – Digital Gateway North – seeks to rezone 534 acres, up from 470 acres in the original filing. In total, the company is aiming to develop around 11.3 million gross square feet (1.05 million sqm) of data center space.
Like Compass, the company has updated the application in the wake of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment the county passed in November 2022 and includes a number of proffers to benefit the area in return for the rezoning authorization.
QTS is planning a maximum building height of 70 feet on the south gateway and 100 feet on the north, compared with Compass, which is aiming for 100 ft, with a 60 ft limit on one area that could impact views from the Manassas Battlefield. QTS notes suit suitability for individual buildings will be evaluated after future viewshed analysis.
Both companies are planning a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 0.30, with QTS noting its buildings are set to be a maximum of three stories. Like with Compass, the exact number of buildings QTS is planning at this stage is unclear, but a letter from NOVEC in a previous county staff report suggests the project could total more than 1,000MW.
The company noted development will be phased and is currently anticipated to occur from south to north, with development in the area south of Artemus Road occurring in earlier phases and development north of Thornton Drive occurring in the later phases.
As with Compass, QTS is aiming to include a large amount of preserved and reforestation areas, wildlife corridors, parks, and cultural resources.
In the south gateway, QTS said it will provide 29 acres of reforested area, and 27 acres of buffers, preserve 77 acres of forested area and include 133 acres of open space. This will total around 38 percent of the total property, which the company notes exceeds the Zoning Ordinance minimum of 20 percent. For the north gateway, QTS will provide 22 acres of reforested area, 22 acres of buffers, and preserve 102 acres of forested area. The 147 acres of planned open space will account for about 27 percent of the total property acreage. The 35-acre wildlife corridor will be a minimum of 600 feet wide.
Reports of a PWC Digital Gateway surfaced in 2021, originally as an 800-acre development later tied to QTS. However, more landowners joined and the proposal expanded to include some 2,133 acres of the county's "rural crescent" for data centers.
The gateway project has been controversial and unpopular with a number of local residents. Opposition groups have been critical of a lack of engagement from developers and even held unacknowledged protests outside QTS’ existing data center in Manassas.
QTS operates six data centers in Virginia; four in the Ashburn area, one in Richmond, and one in Manassas.