Data Center Opportunities Eyed for Town Centers

A county board committee has signed off on an update to Loudoun’s town center zoning rules that could open the developments to data centers.

The county’s Planned Development-Town Center zoning district currently applies in seven projects: Lansdowne, One Loudoun, Arcola Town Center, Dulles Town Center, Cascades Overlook, Waterside, and Dulles World Center, also known as The Hub. Supervisors are taking a new look at the regulations with an eye toward allowing more of the mixed-use developments around eastern Loudoun.

Planning and Zoning Director Ricky Barker characterized the committee’s work on the district as “tweaking.” Major changes to locational standards guiding where town centers should be built will fall under the county’s ongoing Envision Loudoun effort to update the comprehensive plan.

“We feel like the district has some flaws, in that it’s not as flexible as it should be,” Barker said.

Among other changes to the district, specifying a dense, vertical, pedestrian-oriented core and a less-dense fringe, the update would allow data centers, subject to certain standards. The committee’s recommendation would require that buildings that contain data centers match the surrounding designs, be at least three stories tall and occupy less than half of the floor area of the building. The proposal also states that buildings could not contain both a data center and residential units.

The committee also recommended the board look at the possibility of data centers taking up more space in a building, as long as the first floor is another commercial use.

Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) said encouraging the data center market will be important to paying for Loudoun’s Metro obligations. Data centers are this year predicted to bring in well over a hundred million dollars in tax revenue.

The committee, over the objections of county staff members, has also proposed allowing single-family detached homes by-right in town center cores. The proposed rule would allow homes that are least three stories tall in layouts with alleys and garages that can be accessed only from alleys.

The proposed zoning revisions will now go to the full Board of Supervisors for consideration.

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