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Data Center Plan Advances

Credit: City of Phoenix

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Plans for the McDowell Road Data Center – on nearly 98 acres at the SWC of 40th Street and McDowell Road – took a step forward last week as the City of Phoenix’s Planning Commission approved the project’s Planned Unit Development request.

Owner Phoenix Retail Co., LLC bought the vacant site in an Arizona State Land Department auction in July. Various news outlets at the time identified the company as a subsidiary of Quality Technology Services, a giant in the data center and cloud computing industry. Both the Arizona Cardinals and the Phoenix Suns had previously considered the space as a potential stadium site.

The previous mix of zoning types dated back to the 1980s when the site was envisioned as a potentially densely residential, commercial and office area.

The site plan calls for a three-building complex, with structures up to 85 feet tall. Two of the buildings will have screened equipment yards on the north and south façades, while the southernmost will have one on the north façade only.

Access to the site will be from 40th Street, with no access from McDowell except for fire and service vehicles. Ring roads on the campus will provide internal circulation for both building access and fire department use. Parking will be on the eastern façades, near each building’s entrance.

A large retention basin on the property will probably be reconfigured. The owner is currently involved in talks with the city and the Arizona Department of Transportation to determine the best use. Potential uses range from a public open space to active recreational features, such as soccer fields or walking paths.

Due to the sensitive nature of data center operations, the property will be fenced and monitored by both security staff and cameras. In addition to the computer and storage arrays, other facilities on the site may include offices, training spaces and employee amenities. Up to 200 employees may be assigned to the site, with roughly 100 working at any given time.

Because of the need for uninterrupted power, several backup generators will be located in fully enclosed yards next to the buildings.

Building façades will be a mix of concrete panels, masonry veneers, brick, stone and aluminum composite panels. To avoid a monolithic appearance, elevations will vary in color and visual texture. At least 25 percent of façades will vary from the base color, with at least three different colors and two visual textures used on any elevation visible from the public right-of-way. Planned colors include red, grey and tan.

In the interest of sustainability and efficiency, windows will be dual glazed, exterior lighting with be provided with LED systems, and the roofing materials will be lightly colored to minimize heat island impacts.

Once all the various approvals are in place, construction will happen over four phases.

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