Augusta Cyber Works – Cape Augusta Digital Properties LLC
With intent of innovation in the data center wholesale market, Cape Augusta Digital Properties LLC in Evans, Georgia, is planning to develop the Sibley Textile Mill site into a major regional data center for the Southeast. The venture will be known as Augusta Cyber Works part one. Cape Augusta will make a considerable investment with Sibley Mill in liquid-cooling technologies, which allow data centers to operate at significantly higher power efficiencies, further bolstering Cape Augusta’s competitive advantage. With substantial hydropower capabilities on-site, the location offers alternatives to traditional utility supply.
History meets the future
Built in 1881, the Sibley Textile Mill was constructed on the site of the Confederate Powder Works, where gunpowder was produced for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. After the war, the mill produced denim for more than 130 years. In May, the Augusta Canal Authority (ACA) announced a 75-year lease agreement of the property to Cape Augusta, which will be the master developer of the cyber campus. Once completed, Augusta Cyberworks will help stimulate Augusta’s growing status as one of the world’s largest cyber technology hubs and completely transform one of its most historical properties.
In late 2014, Cape Augusta approached ACA and expressed an interest in converting the location into a data center. A major attraction for the company was the site’s ability to leverage the hydropower capabilities offered by the canal. With the amount of computers that will be operating 24 hours a day in the center, the hydropower will help to keep the machines at a regulated temperature.
“There are essentially three tiers to data center operations: connectivity, power and cooling,” says James Ainslie, president of Cape Augusta. “If you can cool and power a data center efficiently it becomes a commodity in the wholesale data center arena. Sibley Mill has all three of those advantages.”
An innovative approach to an expanding market
Cape Augusta was formed on the basis that secondary and tertiary markets present a significant opportunity for wholesale data-center proliferation in the U.S. Ainslie and his company see a continued demand in exponential growth for data-center services. “If you look at what’s happening in the cloud-services industry, it is projected to grow from where we are today at a $250 billion industry to $500 billion in the next decade,” shares Ainslie. “The reality is that we have an increasing demand for a commodity that upends the entire services model in technology today.”
As a discipline, cyber technology remains a relatively young concept. The past decade has seen it headline with a significant surge in just the past five years. Cape Augusta’s approach is to look elsewhere in the U.S. see how it has been done and what the success stories look like in order to learn from the opportunity and deploy it properly.
“It’s important to embrace the entire community of technology,” Ainslie explains. “Data centers, real estate development, venture capital and skills development are all components of being a successful cyber center. You have to have complete collaboration in regard to space.”
In choosing a location to develop a cyber community, Cape Augusta chose Augusta in order to support its thesis in secondary- and tertiary-market wholesale data center proposition. As a secondary and tertiary marketplace, Augusta is undergoing a seismic economic change. “Augusta is standing poised at the brink of what I see as an expansion in the local market if it handles the opportunity correctly,” Ainslie elaborates. “There needs to be a complete focus around that opportunity. We see this data center as a focal point for that activity.”
As the developer, Cape Augusta’s vision is to create a community that incorporates collaboration. While an instinctual reaction for one party may be to isolate the space for its own significance, ACA requested that Cape Augusta look at the entire Sibley Mill site from a real estate perspective, which the company agreed to do and found that by doing so, its model is strengthened. “Our view is partnership,” says Ainslie. “With ACA embracing that model and bringing all of these vital components together for what it takes to be a successful cyber community, the sky is the limit.”
With data centers around the world producing more than 200 million tons of carbon emissions every year, Augusta Cyber Works will present an innovative solution by leveraging the hydropower capabilities to reduce emissions and present a green proposition. Augusta Cyber Works will bring high quality, skilled labor into the community.
By creating an organic skills development aspect by leveraging new-market tax credits and public/private partnerships with the likes of Augusta University and other campuses around the country, Cape Augusta Digital Properties and Augusta Cyber Works are able to create a significant change and an iconic example of what can be done around economic development with data centers.
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