Apple’s ‘Project Pillar’ Eyes Additional Data Center Real Estate

Although construction of their first Oregon data center is not yet complete, Apple reportedly has its sights set on future expansion.

The Oregonian reported that an entity is interested in growing their data center real estate footprint by adding 96 acres of land in Prineville as a potential site for expansion.

“We have an industrial user, ‘Project Pillar,’ that in the past has expressed some interest in the land,” said Phil Stenbeck, assistant planning director for Crook County.

Although Stenbeck did not explicitly identify Apple as the one behind the site discussions, the Oregonian’s Mike Rogoway stated, “it’s plainly Apple.”

Stenbeck said before Apple bought the site for its current data center, an interested party discussing the buy went by the name Maverick. At the time, Apple paid $5.6 million for the 160 acre site which most likely supports the company’s expanding iCloud services, according to AppleInsider contributor Mikey Campbell.

Apple began construction on their first Oregon data center on the bluffs above Prineville in the fall of 2012. The data center design includes a 338,000 square foot facility, which would reportedly be the size of the second building as well, according to Campbell.

If Apple is behind the inquiries, Campbell stated that they will most likely keep their project quiet as they are known to do. Currently, Apple seems to have completed construction on their first site, according to ReadWrite contributor Taylor Hatmaker, who toured a neighboring facility and could view the company’s first site from a nearby rooftop.

Furthermore, Prineville officials told the Oregonian that they are unsure of Apple’s timetable for purchasing or developing the new site.

Data Center Tax Incentives
In addition to the well-known technology company, Facebook, Amazon, Google and Rackspace have facilities in the eastern Oregon region as well. Apple’s potential new facility would fall under the same tax incentives of its first site, as do other data centers in the area. The area boasts no sales tax on data center equipment, including the multitude of computing devices which power and run the facility. Additionally, Oregon has “enterprise zone” agreements which make the sites exempt from property and other business taxes.

Under Apple’s current agreement, its initial data center is exempt for up to 15 years after levying a $250 million investment and creating 35 jobs offering at least 150 percent of the county’s average wage, according to AppleInsider. The company must also pay an annual $150,000 fee to the local government. The Oregon bluffs are also attractive to companies due to their moderate electricity prices, offering added cost savings for enterprises with data center needs.

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