Prince William targets data center growth
Move over Loudoun County. Neighboring Prince William County could eventually wear the data center crown.
Loudoun currently houses the world’s largest concentration of data centers, which cover more than 25 million square feet of county land. About 27 miles away, however, Prince William is projecting about 33 million square feet of data centers will be built over the next 20 years, according to a report by Camoin Associates, an economic development firm. In late September, Prince William had 35 data centers covering 6 million square feet, and an estimated 5.4 million square feet is under development.
Prince William is benefiting from factors driving new data center projects away from Loudoun, where land is scarcer and electrical infrastructure constraints are limiting data center growth, says Josh Levi, president of the Data Center Coalition, a trade association.
Data centers are key to Prince William’s economic development strategy. The county designated about 9,500 acres in 2016 as an overlay district to target areas with the necessary infrastructure to support data centers, and supervisors are considering an expansion.
Data centers generate significant tax revenue and provide a variety of jobs, says Christina Winn, the county’s executive director of economic development. Tax revenue from data centers in the county increased to $79.8 million in 2022 from
$5.9 million in 2013.
“It really comes down to that commercial tax base,” Winn says. “That benefits our schools, libraries and parks.”
But data center development also has stirred controversy in Prince William.
After a 10-hour public hearing in September, the county Planning Commission recommended developing a 2,100-acre data center corridor on Pageland Lane, adjacent to the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Known as the Prince William Digital Gateway, it could add as much as 27 million square feet of data centers. While some landowners want data centers, other residents oppose development near their homes and Manassas National Battlefield Park, the historic site of two Civil War battles.
In Bristow, the proposed 270-acre Devlin Technology Park, which would have added up to 4.25 million square feet of data centers, was put on hold by developers in September after residents expressed concerns about potential noise from industrial cooling systems.
“If it’s in an industrial area, go for it, but don’t put them 100 feet from houses,” says Steve Pleickhardt, president of the adjacent Amberleigh Station neighborhood association, which opposes the construction.