Viewpoint: Lew Shadle and the fall and rise of data centers

The Northern Virginia suburbs, Loudoun County especially, are a worldwide data center hub. Land sells for $1.5 million per acre in some cases and virtually every data center developer and user is represented there, or wants to be. New plans emerge seemingly by the week, from Ashburn to Manassas to Warrenton.

I was first introduced to data centers in 2001 as a young reporter covering the business of Prince William County. At the time, I was following a promising opportunity for the Gainesville area — a 193-acre planned data center campus with on-site chiller and a 270-megawatt natural gas co-generation plant. There was nothing like it anywhere.

Lew Shadle of U.S. DataPort, the developer of the proposed $1.4 billion Gainesville park and two others like it in New Jersey and Northern California, was ahead of his time. While other companies were converting urban warehouses into data centers or building windowless shells next to highways or 100,000-square-foot server farms on spec, he wanted…

Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.