IBM data centre site may be bulldozed for apartments

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IBM data centre site may be bulldozed for apartments
Plant at Cumberland Forest (Credit: Shape Group)

Plan clears local council.

An IBM data centre and office in western Sydney may have to make way for a new apartment complex and residential homes.

Mirvac - which owns the campus-style business park in West Pennant Hills that is leased to IBM - has lodged plans to convert the site into “600 dwellings”, comprising 400 units and 200 houses.

The property firm is understood to have originally sought a redevelopment of the site twice that density, but scaled back on multiple occasions after being refused permission by The Hills Shire Council.

Mirvac’s latest attempt, however, was ticked off by the council on July 25. The proposal has now been turned over to NSW government planners for approval and potential public consultation later this year.

In April, Mirvac Capital called the campus in its current form “not viable”.

“The buildings are redundant,” spokesperson Adrian Checchin told a local paper. “Jobs have been lost and they will not be replaced."

A video shows the space was being shopped to prospective commercial real estate tenants around the same time.

The progression of the proposal to convert the space into residential housing, however, means IBM’s future at the site is now firmly in doubt - though the plan still needs to pass several hurdles before the vendor's time is definitively up.

The Register reports that IBM’s Cumberland Forest data centre on the site is likely to be closed once the vendor’s lease expires in 2019, and that customers are being migrated out.

iTnews has sought verification with IBM.

The data centre is housed in several of the buildings onsite: the “main reception and data centre is housed in building A which comprises four levels, while satellite buildings B – G comprise a mixture of offices and data recovery suites”, according to a vendor that upgraded air conditioning at the site in 2008.

The site underwent a two-year set of works between 2008 and 2010 characterised as an "end-of-life upgrade" for what was already a 25-year-old facility.

The project also created "new floor space for [a] business hub and commercial data backup centre". It left IBM with over 4000 square metres of data centre floor space and a further 2000 square metres of "disaster recovery suites".

Planning documents say the site has “a business focus on information technology services” and is “classified as one of the only ‘high technology’ commercial functions of the employment precincts within The Hills Shire".

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