Why Northern Virginia

Data Center Northern Virginia: Aerial view of a classic brick building with a clock tower surrounded by lush green trees. Residential houses and streets in the background.

Northern Virginia (NVA) is without question the nation’s data center Mecca. The area is home to over 100 data centers representing over 10 million square feet of data center space. With origins stretching back to the late 1960’s when the government began developing wide-area fiber optic networking, the counties of Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax all boast highly developed connectivity infrastructures that make them fertile ground for hyperscalers, cloud companies and the data center providers that serve them—including Compass.

The area’s desirability as a data center destination was initially fueled by its being the home of MAE-East, the internet’s first interconnection point. Since that time Northern Virginia has further capitalized on the region’s affordable power costs and data center sales tax exemption that runs through 2035.

Known as “Data Center Alley” due to the sheer density of the corridor, Loudoun County’s aggressive pursuit of data center companies now serves as the model of municipalities across the country. Under the guidance of its Executive Director of Economic Development, Buddy Rizer, the county has demonstrated the high level of economic impact that data centers can deliver ($250 million in 2018) without overtaxing an area’s public infrastructure by having only limited impact on quality of life issues such as traffic and school enrollment.

Loudoun County is the home of Compass’ 75MW, 100-acre hyperscale campus. To acquire the campus, Compass worked closely with Loudoun County officials during each step of the process including initial site selection, acquisition, permitting and master planning—a process made simpler via our low-impact design, construction and operations which all align with the county’s land-use goals.

The close collaboration between Compass and the county is evidenced by a statement from Mr. Rizer, “Data centers are a major driver of our economy, and I’m thrilled to see Compass breaking ground on the first building of their Loudoun campus. Compass has been a great community partner and has been a responsible and responsive leader in their approach and design toward development. Compass is a world-class operator, and we’re very excited to watch them grow in the world’s most dynamic data center market. I also appreciate the lengths they have gone to in order to address the concerns of the local community, and I’m confident that there is not a more responsible or thoughtful commercial developer to act as the steward of this property.

The strategic value of Compass’ Loudoun County campus cannot be understated. As summarized by our CEO, Chris Crosby, “Northern Virginia is one of the most dynamic data center markets in the world. This project in Loudoun County is a great example of our business model in action, which is not only to build exactly where customers want us to but also to acquire sites in strategic markets so that we can respond quickly to future demand. Our land development expertise is second to none in the industry. That is a major reason why so many customers trust us to be a strategic partner for their IT infrastructure needs. Our Northern Virginia data center campus is part of a strategic initiative to develop Compass campuses in high-demand cloud and hyperscale markets,” Crosby added. “In addition to construction beginning on our Loudoun campus, we also recently procured land in Phoenix and two other major markets to continue our campus development strategy.”

To say that Loudoun County is the epicenter of the data center industry is an understatement. Compass’ Loudoun County I campus in Leesburg enables hyperscalers to take advantage of all of the benefits offered by the area to support their cloud-based applications.