$2B data center to join Atlanta’s fast-growing online storage industry

Undeveloped site near Lithia Springs to soon become sprawling storage farm for online information
This is a rendering of DataBank's planned ATL5 data center in Douglas County.

Credit: DataBank

Credit: DataBank

This is a rendering of DataBank's planned ATL5 data center in Douglas County.

A developer recently bought nearly 100 acres near Atlanta to build the company’s fifth — and largest — data center campus in the region.

DataBank announced this week it plans to build two massive data center warehouses with more than 1 million square feet of space near Lithia Springs, about 20 minutes west of downtown Atlanta. The campus is expected to have access to 180 megawatts of capacity, which DataBank CEO Raul Martynek said represents nearly a $2 billion investment.

The project will rank among metro Atlanta’s largest data centers, which are effectively giant warehouses filled with rows of computer equipment that house data on our online lives and information.

“If you think about anything on your phone, anything on your computer or anything related to your smart TV or any device, all of that information ultimately ends up in a data center,” Martynek told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “So as humans consume more technology and as we find more reasons to adopt technology, my view is that you’ll continue to find need for more data center capacity.”

Aug. 31, 2022 Atlanta - Photo shows power distribution units during a tour of the inside QTS’s Atlanta Data Center Campus in Atlanta on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. QTS Mega Data Center campus, featuring its own on-site Georgia Power substations and direct fiber access to a wide variety of carrier alternatives. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)


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Data centers in recent years have become a popular use for undeveloped and industrial property in response to an ever-increasing demand for online storage space. Atlanta has emerged as a hub for these type of facilities, ranking as the sixth-largest data center market, according to real estate services firm CBRE.

For decades, northern Virginia has served as the preeminent market for data storage farms, stowing military files, data for government departments and large online companies. Martynek said a stressed power grid in the Washington, D.C., area has prompted developers to look elsewhere, often finding the Atlanta area as a willing host.

“You couldn’t build more in the (Washington, D.C.,) area because of the limited power, so it ended up spilling over into other markets like Atlanta,” he said.

DataBank first came to Atlanta in 2018 by incorporating a 9-megawatt data center into Georgia Tech’s Coda development in Midtown. Since then, the Dallas, Texas-based company has opened or planned four other data centers in the Atlanta area.

The company’s fourth facility, which is dubbed ATL4, is under construction on an 18-acre site in Fulton County near the Douglas County line. It’s about a half-mile away from the company’s newly acquired land, which by 2025 or 2026 is expected to become ATL5.

Douglas County has been especially welcoming to data centers, where they’ve popped up like mushrooms after a spring rain shower.

Microsoft, Google and Switch all operate mammoth data storage farms in the county, and there’s a robust pipeline of projects in the works. Vantage Data Centers, Taylor & Mathis, Stack Infrastructure and DC Blox announced large data center developments in Douglas County earlier this year.

Martynek declined to say how much his firm paid for the land for its latest data center plans. He estimated it will employ about 50 to 70 full-time workers.

“They’re office buildings for servers, not people,” he said.

A 2018 Georgia law provides tax exemptions to large data centers that serve “hyperscale” companies, large data users. The incentive, which sunsets in 2033, has proven divisive among economists, with some criticizing how much power, water and land these facilities require to operate and how few in-house workers they employ. Most recent data center projects in Douglas County and its cities have not received local tax abatements or incentives.

Martynek hinted that DataBank’s rapid expansion into the Atlanta market may not end with its fifth data center.

“We’re excited to continue to expand in the Atlanta area, and hopefully we’ll be doing that again in the future,” he said.