by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.
Calling Birmingham a “hidden jewel in the South,” DC BLOX announced Monday that it will build its flagship data center on the former Trinity Steel property in Birmingham’s North Titusville Neighborhood.
Officials of the Atlanta-based provider of data center, network and cloud services said it will use 27 acres to develop 200,000 square feet of secure government-grade data center space.
The project will be up to a $785 million investment spanning the next 10 years, depending on the success of DC BLOX and Birmingham to attract marquee clients and their employees.
Rick Davis, senior vice president for economic development of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said the $785 million reflects the investment over the life of the project, including the investment of tenant companies who would lease space in the data center.
“We look at this as part of Birmingham’s infrastructure,” Davis said. “As we go forward, data is not only going to increase, it’s going to increase exponentially. Having this ability to attract companies who can put their data center in this facility, that’s a key piece for us.”
Davis added that the project could alter Birmingham for the better.
“Nobody has a crystal ball,” he said. “But the amount of investment that’s going to occur here … it could be transformative beyond anybody’s imagination. That’s what we hope will happen.”
Mark Masi, chief operations officer of DC BLOX, said it wasn’t a hard decision to come to Birmingham. It was based on data and research.
“We did a lot of study of all the economic indicators – housing, jobs, numbers of businesses, power rates,” Masi said. “Everything we learned, we experienced, reinforced the decision to come here. It confirmed the data and we’re just delighted to be here.”
The Titusville site, which has been idle for 30 years, will be the company’s largest data center.
DC BLOX officials noted the digital nature of today’s world.
“We live in a tablet/mobile society,” Masi said. “All that is data and it needs to be closer to the customers. (Birmingham) was a forgotten, overlooked gem for so long.”
Jeff Uphues, CEO of the company, chimed in.
“We live in a screen society,” he said. “Every one of those screens streams content. Content needs to be closer to the end user. If you’d like to get rid of that Netflix buffering sign that’s coming across, we help do that.
“The impact that we have goes well beyond building a building,” Uphues continued. “It can enhance everybody in this market based on the screen society that we live in.”
Uphues said the company considered 40 markets to build its data center.
Ground-breaking of the multi-tenant facility will begin in August with phase 1.
Uphues said the company plans to have the facility open by early 2019.
No Puppy Palace Here
The former Trinity Steel property thus will have activity for the first time in 30 years. The property has been the subject of debate in the past year as the Birmingham Humane Society lobbied to move its operations to that location.
North Titusville Neighborhood President John C. Harris has argued loudly against the Humane Society getting the property. He said the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County each paid $1.3 million to purchase the property under the Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority for economic development.
“This is economic development,” Harris said Monday, wearing a ‘Titusville Pride’ T-shirt. “This is going to bring jobs and business into this neighborhood. Giving it away to dogs was not economic development.”