Tag Archives: data centers

Verizon Withdraws Plans For Niagara County Datacenter

17 Mar

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Plans for a $4,500,000,000 Verizon data center in Somerset, NY were withdrawn today and the project canceled.  Verizon notified Niagara County Industrial Development Agency officials that the company intended to build the data center in another state.

The company planned to spend $500MM to build 900,000 square feet of data center space on land currently owned by AES Power.   The data centers would have been filled with up to $3.4 billion worth of equipment over the 20-year life of the facility. Combined with land, utilities and other costs, the project represented a total investment of about $4.5 billion.  The project, originally proposed to begin in November of 2010, but held up in legal proceedings, was to be rolled out in phases.

  • Phase 1 equipment, 2011-13, $640 million.
  • Phase 2 equipment, 2014-15, $800 million.
  • Phase 3 equipment, 2016-21, $2 billion.
  • Equipment maintenance and miscellaneous, $500 million.

Verizon planned to build three two-story data centers on the 17-acre property, each with about 300,000 square feet of space. The company also planned a 20,000-square-foot administration building, two substations for backup power and a glass-walled pavilion which would have been used as a conference center.  In exchange for absorbing the land acquisition and construction costs, Verizon was seeking tax incentives in the form of a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) arrangement, estimated at $330 million over the life of the agreement. Verizon was also seeking grants from the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York Power Authority. Verizon claimed a minimum of 200 people would have been employed at the site with an average annual salary of $80,000.  Construction of the site would have also brought several hundred construction jobs during the various phases of the project buildout.

Verizon was attracted to the region based on several advantages for data center operations, including the ability to use fresh-air cooling (major cost savings) virtually year round and green, renewable power available from the Niagara Power Project.  The Verzion data center would have had a similar footprint and design to the Yahoo! data center in nearby Lockport, NY.

A company wanted to invest $4.5 Billion into our local economy and suddenly changed their mind.  So, you might be asking yourself at this point, WHA HAPPEN?!?! Why did Verizon cancel this project?  Was it the unfriendly business climate fostered by New York State that caused the change of heart?  No, it was one lady and her lawyer.

Mary Ann Rizzo, an elderly woman who resides in Amherst, but owns property across from the proposed data center, retained professional legal obstructionist attorney Arthur Giacalone to stop the project.  She was not demanding changes to the project, she did not want issues remediated, she intended to stop the project and force it to relocate to another area of Niagara County.  She was seeking to preserve the “rustic charm” of this strip of state road bordered by a coal fired power plant and a food processing facility.

See, data centers aren’t objectively bad, just data centers across from her property.

Her initial legal claim was dismissed by Acting State Supreme Court Justice Matthew Murphy back in January, but Rizzo and her attorney appealed that decision.  Giacalone used a common tactic in proceedings like this called “perfecting the appeal“, utilizing the maximum time to file appeals and paperwork to delay the hearings.  The hope is that the delay would force the defendant to simply drop the project in question.  Verizon filed to expedite the appeal process, a judge declined to expedite and five days later, Verizon decided to cancel the project and presumably move it to their second choice location, Laramie, WY.  Giacalone’s plan worked.

State Senator George Maziarz appeared with Brad Riter on WECK1230 AM today to give the eulogy for what would have been an awesome project for WNY.

Since Rizzo doesn’t currently live on the property, what is found at the location?  Well, Judge Murphy noted in his review of her claim that the structures on her property are a dilapidated shack and a garage-type structure and that there is no certificate of occupancy for either structure.

So, welcome to Western New York where the eccentric, selfish dickhead infection has reached epic fucking proportions.  Seriously, one person, who doesn’t even live near the site in question can stop a $4.5 BILLION development?  What in the holy rolling fuck is wrong with the people in this god damned region?  200 permanent jobs, 500-600 construction jobs and hundreds of potential jobs from supporting vendors were killed because of the whims of one person?

Verizon laying fiber optic lines, dragging power out to the lake, and making a 20 year commitment to the region has so many ancillary benefits, it’s almost immeasurable.  Verizon and Yahoo! building massive data centers in WNY, which utilize our hydropower and favorable climate conditions would have been an anchor for future job growth and corporate investment.  But hey, who cares about that when we’re preserving rustic charm, right?

I guess we’ll keep leaning on the marketing power generated by our short commutes and plethora of locally owned urban tsotchke shops to return Buffalo and WNY to national economic relevance.

Fuck.