Developer Wins Key Approval for Data Center Campus in Landover

WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL: Lerner Enterprises has won a key initial approval for a planned data center campus on its former Landover Mall site.

With the possibility of landing the FBI’s new headquarters no longer in the cards, Lerner filed an early-stage application in January for what’s called a preliminary plan of subdivision with Prince George’s County’s land use regulatory agency. The plan calls for five new data centers comprising more than 4.1 million square feet, dubbed the Brightseat Tech Park, on the 87-acre site.

The Planning Board, which oversees that regulatory agency, at its March 14 meeting unanimously approved Lerner’s application.

That doesn’t guarantee data centers — what one applicationdocuments called “a secure, mission-critical technology park” — will ultimately get the green light there, but it’s an important step in the entitlement process.

The Landover site has remained vacant since its previousstructures were razed in 2006 and 2014.

Lerner had hoped to land the new FBI HQ at the site, but thegovernment rejected it, deeming it too expensive. Lerner first began teeing up the data center option as a Plan B in August.

The Prince George’s Economic Development Corp. had previously identified the Landover Mall site as ripe for data center development. The county has long been hungry to get a bigger piece of the lucrative data center pie.

Loudoun County continues to dominate the data center market, though local elected officials have been pushing to restrict further data center development there, opening the door for development elsewhere. Prince William County, for instance, while it’s seen intense grassroots politicalopposition to data centers, has increasingly been attracting big data center players.

Not everyone’s excited about the possibility of data centers.Bradley Heard, president of the nonprofit Greater Capital Heights Improvement Corp., opposes Lerner’s plan, telling the Planning Board Thursday a single-use data center campus doesn’t comport with the vision for the site laid out in the county’s 2009 Landover Gateway Sector Plan. That plan envisions the Landover Mall site becoming “a vibrant 24-hour activity center with a dense urban form and a mix of uses.”

“We agree that the redevelopment of Landover Mall is aworthwhile goal,” he said. He doesn’t dispute that data centers are an allowable use there, but “they need to be coupled with residential and other uses,” he added.

An undated earlier concept from Lerner, linked through thePrince George’s EDC website, shows an illustration of mixed-use development and says the site’s zoning designation at the time would’ve allow up to 8.2 million square feet of development there.

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