Data center, offices planned near Fulton jail

A data center operator plans to nearly double the size of its facilities on Atlanta’s Westside while adding new offices and residences.

QTS Realty Trust, based in Overland Park, Kansas, intends to build a 1.15 million-square-foot data center on Jefferson Street, according to documents filed this week with the state. It would join two existing QTS data centers located nearby.

At the Jefferson Street location, QTS also wants to add 640,00 square feet of office space, 400 residential units and 70,000 square feet of retail.

Data centers house vast amounts of computer servers and equipment that support internet usage. They also hold backup computer files and redundant power supplies for companies.

QTS expects to complete the project by 2024, pending approval from state regulators. QTS did not provide additional details on its plans or respond to a request for comment.

The proposed development is located at the 36-acre site of a former WestRock packaging facility. The property is directly across the street from the Fulton County Jail in a neighborhood that has received intense focus from real estate developers.

It’s less than a mile from property that Microsoft acquired last year for $127 million for a new corporate campus and housing. The Beltline walking path is nearby, as is the Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry.

The expansion plans for QTS come amid a global surge of demand for data center space. Facebook plans to more than triple the size of its investment in a data center complex east of Atlanta. Microsoft also plans to build new data centers in the Atlanta area.

QTS has grown rapidly. In the final three months of 2020, it signed $40 million in new leases to customers that rent space on its data center servers, a company record, according to a news release. One of its Atlanta data centers generated $121 million in revenue in 2020, top among all its U.S. facilities.

Last week, it announced that it partnered with a Southern Co. subsidiary to expand capacity at that company’s Atlanta facilities.