Editor’s note: This story is reprinted with permission of Lenoir News-Topic. Paul Teague is the paper’s local news editor.
LENOIR – The first building at the Google site, under construction since January, is about to have company.
The Internet search and applications leader announced Wednesday that it is proceeding with a second building on the upper level of its 220-acre site, which is located between Harrisburg Road and Overlook Drive in Lenoir.
A press release, issued by Capital Strategies, a strategic communications firm representing Google, states, “The second building has been part of Google’s plan since the company decided to construct a $600 million data center…”
According to Tom Jacobik, the operations manager for the Lenoir site, the second building will be similar to the 125,000-square-foot structure that has been under construction since the beginning of the year. He said going forward with the new facility is a logical step.
“With the quality of the construction crew and everyone seeing what has developed thus far, it made good financial sense and good business sense to move forward,” Jacobik said.
“We’re going to build it across a segment of that area. It will give us the opportunity to be more flexible for what we might want to do in the future.”
According to the release, the second building will be built to allow for expansion if the need arises, though none is anticipated at this time.
Caldwell County Planning Department Director Randy Feierabend said he has not received a building plan or permit application as of Wednesday afternoon.
When completed, the buildings are expected to house Google’s massive array of computer servers, which handle Internet searches and the company’s growing list of computer program features. Google has said it expects the so-called “server farm” to create up to 200 full-time jobs. Already, the construction phase of the site has featured hundreds of workers on the scene each day.
According to a sketch of the construction site supplied by Capital Strategies, the second building will be placed on a large pad and near a power substation, which is also being developed. The lower level is host to a 125,000-square-foot building that is nearing completion of its outer shell. The two levels are connected by a bridge and road system Google built and includes drainage areas and foliage to manage runoff.
The upper pad also features extensive sodding of grass to limit the amount of dust stirred up by the large equipment at the site.
Jacobik said he anticipates the first building to be completed by the end of the year, which then will allow technicians to begin setting up operations.
“We’ll be getting the computers in and getting the systems online,” he said. “It takes us a while to get all of the systems in and getting it all integrated.”
The announcement of the second building was welcomed by local officials.
Lenoir Mayor David Barlow, who was one of the lead negotiators in talks with Google last year, said, “Google’s getting the job done, no doubt about it. The second building was part of our discussions from the start, so it isn’t a surprise. But it is good news for our local construction crews and for everyone here looking forward to seeing a world-wide brand like Google up and running.”
Lenoir and Caldwell County granted Google tax incentives and reduced rates on water usage, including an 100-percent for business property taxes and an 80-percent credit for real property taxes for up to 30 years. The company also received a Jobs Development Investment Grant from the state, along with a sales-tax exemption for electrical power usage.
The size of the incentives, both state and local, have been estimated at close to $260 million if fully utilized. The deal and the secrecy of the negotiations drew scrutiny from area residents, along with local and state officials.
For its part, Google contributed $3 million, split between Lenoir and Caldwell County, to cover “soft” costs related to the deal and to develop a rail transload center. Lenoir also received $1,050,000 to be used for possible expansion of the Lenoir’s water plant.
“I think it’s just great news,” Lenoir City Manager Lane Bailey said. “We were anticipating the second building. We’re happy that they’re here.”
Added Caldwell County Commission Chairwoman Faye Higgins, “The people of Caldwell County are finding Google to be a very good neighbor and an excellent addition to our community.
“We’re delighted with the new of the second building and eager to see the data center reach completion. The experience with Google so far has been extremely positive and we look forward to a bright future together.”
Google announced on Jan. 18 that it had selected Lenoir to be home to one of its data centers. Since that time, the company has revealed plans for additional data centers in Goose Creek, S.C., Pryor, Okla., and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Previously, the company – based in Mountain View, Calif. – developed a data center in The Dalles, Ore.