Huge Canberra data centre courts anchor tenants

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Huge Canberra data centre courts anchor tenants

Builders behind the Canberra Technology City data centre development say they will push ahead despite the Federal Government’s decision not to consolidate existing data centre facilities into one ‘super centre’.

Stephen Ellis, a director of Galileo Connect Asia Pacific, said the company was in "advanced discussions" with at least two non-government firms it wants as anchor tenants in the facility.

The ‘City' plan consists of a campus of fourteen 1,000 square-metre data centres and a gas co-generation plant.

The ACT Planning and Land Authority have granted conditional approval on the development application, but Galileo is "still waiting on the [ACT] Government to sign the deed across to us".

"Realistically we're talking about beginning construction in the third quarter of next year," Ellis said.

The project was originally destined for a site "800 metres up the road", but the first location drew the ire of a residents' action group and became a political football in last year's ACT elections.

Both the Liberal Party and the Greens said they would block development on the original site if they were to win the election outright or achieve the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly.

Although the election ended Labor's majority, it continues to rule with a minority government.

Part of the ensuing negotiations resulted in an agreement to shift the Canberra Technology City development to a site in a zoned industrial area, instead of its original location.

Ellis said once it receives the final deeds, it will commence building out the site in a modular fashion, rather than as one large build.

"We're going to modularise the whole thing," Ellis said.

"The onsite gas co-generation plant alone is $50 million odd dollars. It doesn't make sense to build it all in one hit.

"You can buy smaller turbines. We're working with Actew-AGL for the best solution in that regard."

Ellis said the development was feasible even if only one of the 14 halls is constructed.

He also said that construction wasn't dependent on having the Federal Government or its agencies as anchor tenants - "but we'd love to talk to them".

At CeBIT09, the Federal Government CIO Ann Steward ruled out the possibility of building a supersized data centre to support agencies meeting the recommendations of the Gershon Review.

"Our project was never solely focused on government, although they are obviously a major user of space in Canberra generally," Ellis said.

"We never expected to cover the whole Canberra data centre market - it wasn't the idea."

He believed market pressure for data centre space in Canberra was continuing to rise and that Galileo would have some anchor tenants for the development shortly.

"It's just a matter of time," Ellis said.

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