updated 06:26 pm EDT, Tue September 24, 2013
New 96-acre parcel may become third data center even as first gears up
Apple has been constructing a 338,000-square-foot data center near Prineville, Oregon for some time -- the first of two it plans to open -- but even as construction is finishing on the first project, the iPhone maker is already said to be thinking about expansion. According to reports in local papers, Apple is considering the purchase of a separate parcel of land some 96 acres in size near the town for additional development, though the nature of its interest hasn't been expressly revealed.
Assistant Planning Director for Crook County Phil Steinbeck did not identify Apple specifically, referring to the potential buyer as "Project Pillar," but the suitor's identity was revealed by the fact that the property awaiting transfer is covered by the exact same tax agreement Apple's known facilities have. The "Project Pillar" name was also previously called "Project Maverick" -- which Apple used to buy the 160 acres of land it is using for its Prineville data centers, reports The Oregonian.
What Apple would do with the land should it acquire it is unknown. The size of the parcel is more than sufficiently large enough to construct an additional data center if the company wanted, since the 160 acres it has now are being used for two massive data centers plus the biogas and solar facilities needed to power them. The general region from central Oregon to near the Oregon-Washington border is rife with tech companies' data centers, mostly due to low prices for electricity and local authorities that grant generous tax deals in exchange for guaranteed new job creation at 150 percent or more of the of the average wage.
Facebook has a facility just down the road from Apple in Prineville, while Google is also considering an expansion of its own data center in an area right along the border in an area known as The Dalles. Apple's agreement with Prineville and Crook County calls for a minimum investment of $250 million, an annual "project fee" of $150,000 and the creation of at least 35 jobs at 150 percent of the county average wage. In exchange, Apple gets a property tax exemption on its facilities for up to 15 years, and Oregon also has no sales tax -- saving Apple millions on the powerful servers it uses to run the data facilities.