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RESTON, VA-To be sure, there are any number of anecdotal data points that illustrate the strength of the data center real estate sector around the country. However as government spending under the Obama Administration gets underway, real estate executives in the region believe the data center sector’s showing will be unusually strong here. Locally-based Waterford Development, for instance, has received so many inquiries from firms seeking space for data center operations that it is expecting to build a 50,000-square-foot to 60,000-square-foot data center at its [email protected] William Technology Park in Manassas, VA, Jan Zachariasse, president and CEO of Waterford Development tells GlobeSt.com.

“I would say we have received–over the last few months–inquires that would translate into about 500,000 square feet of space,” he says, adding that there are varying degrees of interest accompanying those inquires. In this market, Waterford is not going to develop a building without an anchor tenant–but Zachariasse feels confident that one will be signed in the foreseeable future. The development costs for the new building would be about $20 million. Financing would be provided by SNS Reaal, a Dutch bank that underwrites foreign real estate if there is a Dutch interest or link to the project. Zachariasse is a Dutch national.

Zachariasse attributes the surge of interest to the government programs beginning to unfold. “Data management–whether it is financial or record keeping–will be essential to having these initiatives succeed, of course,” he says.

Another example is the DC-based data center REIT DuPont Fabros, which has 1.8 million square feet of data centers in its portfolio. The company’s ACC5 data center in Ashburn, VA, is 57% pre-leased, having recently inked agreements with two Fortune 500 companies.

CEO Hossein Fateh tells GlobeSt.com that there are several drivers that are supporting data centers as a real estate asset class–even as fundamentals in other real estate sectors continue to erode. Government initiatives are one; so is the proliferation of Web 2.0 technologies. Also most enterprise companies require separate data center operations that are secure and redundant–which usually means turning to wholesale providers such as DuPont Fabros.

But while demand is surging, Fateh notes that supply has dwindled thanks to the credit crunch. Construction financing has affected development in this sector as well; Dupont Fabros was forced to set aside plans for projects in New Jersey for that reason, Fateh says. For developers or property owners with data center space already available–or that can be reconfigured–that is good news in an otherwise bleak market.

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