First comes Mills, then comes Huckleberry.
At least that’s the case with the Apple tree at the company’s Reno-area data center, which is poised to further expand with the addition of a new project.
Apple filed a permit with Washoe County to build a new cluster of facilities adjacent to its original “Project Mills” site that it is dubbing “Project Huckleberry.” Although previous activity at the site involved expanding on the original campus, permitting information indicates that Huckleberry involves the construction of a new data center. Initial construction for the project will involve a new full shell, several data center clusters as well as a support building.
“It’s a whole different set of buildings but it looks like it is going to be essentially the same design as Project Mills, only turned perpendicularly to the east,” said Trevor Lloyd, senior planner for Washoe County Planning and Development’s Community Services.
The permit application follows continued activity at the Reno Technology Park site just east of Reno-Sparks since the Apple data center deal was approved in 2012 — which included an $89 million tax abatement. Prior to the filing for Project Huckleberry, the data facility was shaping up to have 14 buildings with a total size of 412,000 square feet, according to Lloyd. Most recently, Apple submitted a permit for a new substation to support further development. The site is practically at capacity and will require more power to support new development, according to Lloyd.
As for Project Huckleberry, the permit should be approved once the necessary corrections to the initial submission are made by Apple. Based on past trends, those should likely be done fairly soon, Lloyd said.
“Typically, I’m willing to bet that we’ll have a completely approved set of plans by the end of the month,” Lloyd said.
The continued activity at the site is a reflection of the long-term impact of huge data center projects, said Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
“When you put tens of hundreds of millions of dollars on a huge data center project, you don’t plan on relocating after three years,” Kazmierksi said. “You’re in it for the long haul.”
Despite criticism involving water usage and lower job counts, data centers such as the Apple project have a positive overall impact on the economy, Kazmierski said. The Apple deal kicked off a string of high profile economic development wins for the region, including Tesla Motors’ $5 billion Gigafactory.
Northern Nevada also attracted two high profile data center projects last year.Switch’s SuperNAP colocation data center at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center is planned to be the largest data center facility in the world once finished. Apple is also set to get a new neighbor with cloud services company Rackspace planning to build a data center at Reno Technology Park.
“Some people think data centers aren’t worth it but to say they don’t have a positive impact looks only at some narrow criteria and not their entire impact,” Kazmierski said. “The reality is that the requirement of data centers on schools and other infrastructure is far less than what they bring to the community from an economic investment perspective.”