eStruxture at Vancouver Data Center Summit 2018
November 01, 2018
CapRE: What have you been up to over the last few months? How would you characterize your activity in that time period?
Todd: We have a significant amount of opportunity in front of us and fair expansion in Montréal and Vancouver. We just completed a $10 million dollar expansion of MTL-1, which is our flagship downtown facility. We upgraded the power, more than doubled the amount of capacity, and doubled the white space. It’s just been commissioned and is now online. Frankly, we’ve been selling into the white space, which is now 60% sold through. We’ve been bringing new capacity online, fully commissioned, adding 4 and a half MW of generators and a new N+1 cooling system. So there’s been no shortage of work going on there.
We are also building a Tier 3 data center at the former Montréal Gazette building (MTL-2), so we are nearing the end of the phase 1 deployment, and it is set to come online at end of November. It’s high density, capable of up to 30 kW per rack, without any re-engineering of the cooling. It’s a pretty substantial facility.
CapRE: How about in Vancouver?
Todd: We are doing an upgrade in our Vancouver facility (VAN-1), which we acquired back in April from Backbone Data Vault, and we are doing a smaller expansion with a 2.5-megawatt facility and 2000-3000 square feet of white space. We’re in the design phase and expect that to come online by the end of Q1 2019.
CapRE: Let’s talk more about Vancouver. What are your thoughts on the market? How did it get to be where it is and where is it going next?
Todd: We like the Vancouver market a lot. However, if the Vancouver market was easy in terms of obtaining space, the cost of real estate, permitting, hydropower upgrades, etc. then everyone would do it. But it’s not. Still, we like it a lot. It doesn’t have real significant operators. Our expectation is to come in and expand beyond the current facility and be one of the largest operators, if not the largest operator, in Vancouver over the next 18 months. That said, Vancouver is a unique market on its own. It has close proximity to Seattle, but they’re two very different markets.
We see it as a great opportunity for two reasons. One is the significant amount of Fortune 1000 companies moving there, not necessarily HQ’s but still a significant amount of office. Amazon, Google, and others are saying, where do we want to put our offices and where do our skillsets want to live? And Vancouver is a hot stop. If you look at what’s going on from an office space perspective, with over a million square feet of office space coming online, we think that the market is up and coming.
The asterisk, again though, is that it’s not easy. The cost of real estate is through the roof. To buy land is anywhere from 1.5 to 10 million dollars per acre. But looking at the data center landscape today, on a carrier-neutral basis, no one is operating with more than 20,000 square feet of space. So we see it as an evolving market and one in which we intend to make a significant investment.
CapRE: So what are some of the remaining challenges for Vancouver to meet its full potential?
Todd: In order to build in B.C. and particularly around Vancouver, the permitting process is very long and arduous. Frankly, in Downtown Vancouver, it has moved from a commercial environment to a residential environment with lots of money moving in from Asia and taking up lights out residences. That makes permitting downtown challenging for noise issues in particular.