Large industrial proposal could feature data centers on Ashland-Hanover line

westdulles iron horse business park

The site plan of the proposed Iron Horse Business Park development, which is proposed for a site split across Ashland and Hanover County. (Images courtesy Ashland)

A Reston-based developer is seeking zoning approval for a project that could take the form of either an industrial park or data center campus on Ashland’s eastern boundary with Hanover County.

The WestDulles Properties project, dubbed Iron Horse Business Park, would take shape on a 230-acre site split about 60-40 between Ashland and Hanover.

Zoning approvals from both localities are still needed, and next month the proposal is expected to come before the Ashland Planning Commission, WestDulles CEO Eric Wells said.

The developer recently filed its latest rezoning applications for the project, which has been in the works for several years.

The latest proposal features two potential development plans for the site. The project could take the form of an industrial complex of 1.9 million square feet across nearly a dozen buildings. Future users for that version could include manufacturers, warehouses, breweries, commercial greenhouses and vocational schools, among others.

That project also would feature retail pads fronting Patrick Henry Highway (Route 54) and a 110-room hotel.

The other possibility is a data center campus, which is an alternative concept not included in the original zoning proposal filed in 2022 or a revised application filed in March 2023. Wells said that take on the project could feature 2.5 million to 3 million square feet of data center facilities across 10 to 12 buildings. A 2024 traffic study for the project was based on a 3.3 million square foot data center campus.

“We will go in one direction or the other,” Wells said. “The data center (industry) is something our company has been involved in for many years in Northern Virginia, since the late ’90s.”

westdulles data center iron horse e1715815702198

This site plan shows a portion of a proposed data center campus at the Iron Horse project site in Hanover.

Also new to the project and included in the zoning request are 49 single-family homes that would rise on a 44-acre site to the southwest of the proposed industrial development. The previous version of the project proposed nearly 150 townhomes for the site.

While there were discussions between the developer and local governments regarding the original pitch last year and in 2022, the project’s first formal review will be with the town’s planning commissioners in June, Wells said. Town Council will later provide a final verdict for the Ashland-based portion of the project.

The Hanover Planning Commission is expected to vote whether to recommend final approve in July, and the Board of Supervisors will make a final decision after that.

WestDulles has requested light industrial (M-1) and highway commercial (B-2) zoning in Ashland, in addition to light industrial (M-2), community business (B-2) and single-family residential (RS) in Hanover. Most of the project site is currently zoned for mixed-use development.

WestDulles owns the majority of the project site, which is near the Interstate 95 interchange with Route 54.

Land for the proposed residential development is owned by Harris & Douglas Properties LLC, which would retain ownership and would develop the homes.

westdulles subdivision iron horse

A request to build a 49-lot single-family subdivision is included in the zoning application tied to the Iron Horse Business Park, which would be built nearby.

A conditional use permit is being sought to allow for the construction of substations that would be needed at a data center development.

Community meetings to discuss the project are scheduled for 4:30-8 p.m. May 23 at The Depot (107 S. Railroad Ave.) in Ashland, as well as at 6 p.m. June 3 at Ashland Theater (205 England St.).

Andy Condlin of law firm Roth Jackson is representing the applicant in the zoning process.

The move by WestDulles to map out a potential data center campus for the site comes amid other similar projects in the region. Denver-based Tract recently closed on the purchase of 1,200 acres in Hanover County for data center facilities. In Powhatan, a data center project has been proposed for a 120-acre site.

POSTED IN Commercial Real Estate

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
20 days ago

Bob Atack wrestled with that property for three years in the mid-90’s. The Town agreed to rezone it for single family homes but the County refused to provide utilities to it. Then, Hank Wilton took a run at it in the early 2000s, rezoned it and subsequently lost it in the 2008 “big recession”. It was split between two developers, one with the residential component and the other with the commercial, but the zoning for it required the commercial component to be developed first. That didn’t work. Perhaps this development team will get something done there, but if there’s one… Read more »

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
19 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Thank you for giving those who do not know a bit of color on the challenges of developing outside the urban core. Frequently, just turning land into lots is most of the battle.

Daniel Graves
Daniel Graves
20 days ago

My God, make it stop. I can hear the developers now…”Whose taking one for the team and getting under the Boards desk to get this through.”

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
19 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Graves

You type like you know. From everything I have seen, it is hard to get a LOT of things through, and as far as what the leadership of these counties want (that is, what they would not need to be bribed or whatever for) is data centers. As I have pointed out many times here now, data centers have all the benefits of factories without the downsides like increased traffic — and factories are more sought after than retail, and retail more than residential — because residential comes with a lot of costs for the county, ESP if it is… Read more »

Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
19 days ago

Come on data center in Powhatan County Dady needs a new sidewalk.