WASHINGTON, DC-A parking lot in a rundown warehouse district in Washington, DC is expected to become home to one of the city’s largest real estate projects. Level 3 Communications is close to signing a deal to build an 816,000-sf data center at 90 K St., NE, a facility more than 200,000 sf larger than anything it has now.

The four-story, windowless building is the latest project to land in the NoMa district, a roughly triangular area named for being north of Massachusetts Ave. The neighborhood has become popular with tech firms for its large, sturdy buildings and rights-of-way usability for fiber-optic cable.

The massive project also reflects how fast business is growing for the Broomfield, CO-based fiber-optic network, says Kathy Sattem, spokeswoman.

“We’ve seen such a rapid increase in demand for collocation space,” she said, using a term that refers to housing computer servers from many different companies in one location to speed communications between them. Previous facilities ranged from 30,000 sf to 60,000 sf, but sold out quickly. Now it has facilities operating and under construction that are half a million sf large.

Level 3 wants a “gateway” site in the city to serve its expanding business in the Washington region. The company has an increasing number of Internet company clients, including America Online, based in nearby Sterling.

Incentives from the District of Columbia helped persuade Level 3 to move into town, rather than Northern Virginia, where it was also considering sites. The company declines to reveal how much the project will cost.

Construction would begin shortly after closing the deal and is likely to take a year, she says.

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