By Michael Tomberlin
Atlanta-based DC BLOX said today it is building a data center on the former Trinity Steel site in downtown Birmingham, creating 20 jobs initially with the potential to grow up to $785 million in capital investment and add jobs over the next decade.
“The significant investment being made by DC BLOX to open this data center in Birmingham will not only create high-paying jobs, but also bring an exciting new chapter to a neighborhood in the city with a long industrial history,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said. “We’re committed to positioning Alabama for a technology-focused future and look forward to working with the company to accelerate that process.”
The 31,000-square-foot first phase of the multi-tenant Birmingham data center joins others DC BLOX has built or announced in Huntsville, Atlanta and Chattanooga. DC BLOX plans to break ground in August and have a facility configurable up to 5 megawatts (MW) of customer capacity by early 2019.
As customers are added, the facility can grow up to 200,000 square feet and 80 MW.
Plans are for the facility to have 13,000 square feet of office space with conference rooms, staging areas and work stations.
“The Birmingham data center campus will unquestionably be our flagship property, capable of scaling to over 200,000 square feet of secure, government-grade data center space,” said DC BLOX CEO Jeff Uphues. “We believe this site will be a highly compelling alternative in the Southeast to Atlanta for enterprise, hyperscale cloud, software-as-a-service, government, network and content providers. It’s our focus to create a multi-purpose innovation campus with collaborative workspaces worthy of housing global technology companies and academia dedicated to research and collaboration.”
DC BLOX has been scouting sites in Birmingham for nearly a year.
“DC BLOX wanted to be in Birmingham because of its strong local economy, geographic location, fiber optic network connectivity and the University of Alabama at Birmingham,” said Mark Masi, COO of DC BLOX. “We are thankful to the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County and the state of Alabama for collaborating with DC BLOX on this project.”
During the construction and operational phase, the project is expected to have an economic impact of $94 million on the Birmingham metropolitan area, more than $80 million of which will be in Jefferson County, according to an analysis prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama. The Birmingham Business Alliance commissioned the analysis. Economic impact on the state is estimated to be $99 million.
“Because data centers represent the backbone of the technology infrastructure, we see strategic benefits for Alabama to host state-of-the-art centers that keep the world connected,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “DC BLOX is joining an impressive roster of technology companies selecting Alabama for their data centers, and we want to see that list grow.”
Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington predicted DC BLOX’s data center will attract future business.
“DC BLOX will be a tremendous asset to the existing companies throughout Jefferson County and a tool to attract new companies here,” Carrington said. “This takes Birmingham’s thriving innovation ecosystem beyond its usual physical boundaries of the city center and extends it into an area that will only strengthen our core.”
The new DC BLOX data center brings new life to the former Trinity Steel property, which county and city officials have long sought to bring back to productive use.
“The city of Birmingham was proud to work with DC BLOX to bring this significant data center project to Birmingham,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin. “In addition to utilizing a long-vacant property in our city and transforming the surrounding neighborhood, this will serve as the company’s flagship data center and a tool to attract further business to the area.”
The team luring DC BLOX to the site included the Alabama Department of Commerce, Jefferson County Commission, Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority, the city of Birmingham and its Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, Titusville Neighborhood Association, Birmingham Industrial Development Board, Alabama Power, Spire, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and the Birmingham Business Alliance.
“The $785 million investment over the next 10 years to build this data center technology campus represents the single largest project investment in Jefferson County in many years,” said Lee Smith, East Region CEO for BBVA Compass and 2018 chairman of the Birmingham Business Alliance. “DC BLOX recognizes the importance of Birmingham’s innovation and technology economy, and they share our vision that having a location near downtown will optimize the company’s growth opportunities. As with any successful economic development project, a great team worked together with the company to ensure its needs are met and that the project is mutually beneficial to the company, community and state.”
This story originally appeared on Alabama NewsCenter.