New Location, Smaller Footprint for Proposed Connexion Data Center

The company behind the development of the proposed Connexion data center has put the 87,000-square-foot Taystee Foods distribution center on Neil Armstrong Boulevard under contract.

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When North Carolina-based Five 9s Digital first considered developing a data center in Eagan, the company scoured local real estate listings for a vacant building to occupy.

But when no suitable choices materialized, the company decided to construct its own, 138,000-square-foot facility—called the Connexion—along Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan.

Now, Five 9s digital is returning to its original plans. Rather than starting from the ground up, the business has put the former Taystee Foods distribution center in Eagan under contract, according to Five 9s CEO Doug Hollidge. Five 9s may finalize purchase of the building as early as April, Hollidge said.

Renovating the 87,000-square-foot building—located along Neil Armstrong Boulevard in northeastern Eagan—offers several advantages to Five 9s and its potential clients, Hollidge said.

"It allows us to hit the market more quickly and at about half of the previous rental rate," said Hollidge, who confirmed that the company put the Taystee Foods building under contract in late 2012.

If the company goes through with the construction of the data center, Five 9s' decision will likely allay the concerns of the data center's potential occupants, who are very cost- and time-sensitive, Hollidge said.

While the cost estimate to build a new data center ranged from $75 million to $100 million, the cost to renovate the Taystee Foods site may be as little as $40 million, Hollidge added. In turn, Five 9s plans to drop rental rates for its tenants from $28 per square foot to $14 per square foot, Hollidge said.

The company's announcement late in 2011 that it planned to break ground on a new data center made headlines across the region. Last August, however,  Hollidge told Patch that the company had yet to secure an anchor tenant for the project.

Five 9s Digital isn't the only company with stake in the proposal. Communications announced its intention to bring a long haul fiber route into the Twin Cities area via the Connexion. The long haul route would serve as an alternative "point of entry" for Internet traffic in and out of the the region, and would connect to a a transwestern fiber link in Kansas City, Mo.

XO Communications representatives were not immediately available for comment on the status of the long haul fiber route.

In the meantime, the city of Eagan has all but completed its own 16.7 fiber loop, according to Eagan Director of Communications Tom Garrison; only a half-mile section of the loop has yet to be developed.

The fiber loop, which the city plans to lease out to providers, would be available for use by the business community in Eagan. Funding for the loop was drawn entirely from tower lease revenues, franchise funds and other alternative sources. No taxpayer dollars were used to build the loop, Garrison said last year.

The city is well-positioned to connect the fiber loop to Five 9s' data center, once built, but the council ultimately has to authorize the connection, Garrison said.

If nothing else, the feasability study that helped bring the Connexion proposal to Eagan has raised the city's profile nationally as a desirable place to locate a data center, Garrison said.

"More than one national player is kicking tires around Eagan," Garrison said.



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