Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors has approved the Belmont Innovation Campus after the project size was reduced.

Approval for the development, located in Belmont, Loudoun County, comes just a month after supervisors previously rejected the proposal due to concerns about the size, reports Loudoun Now.

SDC belmont innovation campus virginia
– Loudoun County

Original plans submitted in 2022 would have seen Belmont Innovation Campus reaching 4.8 million sq ft (445,935 sqm) of data center space, making it the largest data center campus in Loudoun County.

This was reduced several times, but still rejected by the Board of Supervisors in March 2024.

Following the rejection, applicant SDC Capital Partners via Loudoun GC revised the proposal again to 1.3m sq ft (120,774 sqm), and supervisor Michael Turner brought it back for consideration on March 19, enabling the applicant to avoid resubmitting a new application.

The data center campus will be located on 112 acres between Belmont Ridge Road and Goose Creek. Approval for the project went through with 6-3 votes.

In addition to reducing the size of the data centers, the new version of the application has removed a proposed substation along Russel Branch Parkway, instead leaving the remaining substation to be built by an open space buffer.

Loudoun GC has also ditched plans to use low-noise emission fans and to install 10,000 sq ft of solar panels.

The proposed density of floor-area by ratio has increased from 0.6 to 1, which has received some criticism. John Lovegrove of Loudoun's Future PAC voiced concerns that this would enable the applicant to actually build the original planned data center. However, Loudoun GC says that it is just a technicality, and the developer will still be limited to 1.3 million square feet.

The site selected for the campus is a by-right use under current zoning, meaning the data center could have gone ahead regardless, but by approving the project the county gets between environmental protections.

Turner said: "Let me clarify exactly what the facts are. There is going to be a 1.32 million square foot data center on this piece of land no matter how we vote tonight. That has always been the case.”

Turner added that even with the increased density allowance, the applicant would be legally restricted from building more than 1.3 million square feet of data center space.

This does not limit the developer from requesting to expand in the future. "This is a better deal than a by-right which is a complete unknown and a roll of the dice,” Turner said.

Opposition voters for the project were county chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), vice chair Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian), and supervisor Laura A. TeKrony (D-Little River).

Randall said: “This is my message to the data center community at large. We have not met with the data center coalition in over two years, two years. And I'm going to take some responsibility for that because phone calls can be made both ways."

According to Randall, they used to meet frequently about expectations on both sides.

“Now what we get often is … vote for this data center or we're going to build it by-right and it's going to be crappy. And that's not how that's supposed to happen,” Randall said.

Update - County chair Phyllis Randall contacted DCD via email following the meeting:

"I was gratified to receive a call from Josh Levi, president of the Data Center Coalition (DCC). We had a very productive conversation and recommitted to talking and meeting on a regular basis. I look forward to working with him and the full DCC on Loudoun’s Data Center Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPAM).

I also want to clarify my office did have a meeting with DCC in the past two years. In addition, Mr. Levi informs me DCC members have met with County Staff over the past two years."

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Founded in 2017, SDC Capital Partners is a private equity firm based in New York and focused on digital infrastructure. Its investments include Sentinel Data Centers, Latin American operator Ascenty, a number of fiber firms, and Arcadia Towers.