Another sizable, code-named development project is in the works in eastern Henrico’s White Oak Technology Park, and it appears a social media giant is behind it.
Conceptual plans for a “Project Tropical” were filed with Henrico County earlier this month.
The plans call for a pair of data centers to rise at 3951 Portugee Road, a 475-acre plot that was purchased by an entity tied to Meta, Facebook’s parent company, in October for $35.3 million.
Details such as the size of the buildings were not included in the preliminary plans. However, Henrico documents show that two data centers and three auxiliary buildings would rise on the currently wooded area.
The site sits just south across Portugee Road from Meta’s existing 2.4 million-square-foot data center campus, which it built in phases to the tune of more than $1 billion at 6200 and 7301 Technology Blvd. beginning in 2017.
Scout Development LLC, the same entity Meta used to develop and purchase land in White Oak in 2017, was the buyer of the 475 acres at 3951 Portugee Road. County records show that the deal closed on Oct. 31, with Henrico’s Economic Development Authority the seller.
A Meta spokesperson said the company is “always evaluating potential new sites as we expand our global infrastructure” but declined to comment specifically on the Henrico project.
Much like Meta’s initial data center project in White Oak – which was code-named Project Echo – Project Tropical is listed as being fast-tracked through Henrico planning, documents show.
Subcontractors listed on the Project Tropical plans include engineering firms Olsson and HDR, both of which are based in Nebraska; Hargis Engineers out of Seattle; and California-based construction consultant RAS Design Group.
Meta acquired the roughly 326 acres for its existing White Oak data centers in 2017 and 2020 for a total of $13.4 million. With the addition of 3951 Portugee Road, Meta now owns just over 800 acres in the tech park.
The gears for Project Tropical are getting moving in a time of some turbulence for Meta. Earlier this month the company announced it was laying off over 11,000 people, or 13 percent of its workforce. Meta’s spokesperson declined to confirm whether any of the people impacted were at the Henrico facility.
Totaling around 2,300 acres, White Oak Tech Park houses tenants such as LL Flooring, Hewlett-Packard and QTS, a giant of the data center world that’s working on a 1.5 million-square-foot expansion of its own on Portugee Road.
The Meta project shows the tech park continuing to benefit from its status as a hub for QTS’s so-named Richmond Network Access Point, an inland landing spot for several transcontinental subsea cables that are said to provide some of the fastest internet speeds on the planet.
The cables, which come ashore at Virginia Beach and snake up Interstate 64 through QTS at White Oak, connect internet that reaches South America, Africa and Europe.
Such projects also have been spurred by Henrico’s decision last year to slash its data center tax rate by 88 percent to 40 cents per $100.