Leaders in Kent County Interested in Data Center Project - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Leaders in Kent County Interested in Data Center Project

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - After a controversial data center project in northern Delaware came to a screeching halt last week, city and county leaders in central Delaware are expressing interest in putting the facility in the state's capital region.

That facility was supposed to be built in Newark. The company behind the project planned to put the data center on the University of Delaware's Science, Technology and Advanced Research, or STAR, Campus. That's at the site of an old Chrysler assembly plant. But after months of push back from people who live nearby, UD pulled the plug.

Now, leaders in Kent County want that company to consider looking south.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen says Newark's loss would be Dover's gain.

"We are certainly interested in this facility coming to the city of Dover. We have a specific site we feel it would be compatible with," he said.

Christiansen wouldn't say where that site is. The exact site is important because it was "not-in-my-backyard" concerns that derailed the 900,000-sq. ft. complex in Newark.

 The big sticking point was a 279-megawatt natural gas power plant included in the complex. People living in Newark were worried about property values, noise, safety and the environment.

"If this is doable without any adverse effects on the community, we want these folks to come here and meet with us and locate here in the central Delaware area," Christiansen said.

Jim Waddington, Kent County Economic Development Director, says the area has a lot to offer.

"Kent County has the availability of land. We have a business friendly mindset," he said. "We do have considerable infrastructure in place to support the energy needs of a data center."

He says perhaps the project can be done in central Delaware without the power plant portion. A new natural gas power plant is already under construction just east of Dover.

In the end for economic leaders, this is about jobs, though it's unclear just how many construction and permanent facility jobs the data center would create.

"We want to bring jobs to Dover without compromising our standards," said Christiansen. "We are ready to receive them open arms if this project is compatible with the needs of Dover and its citizens."

WBOC reached out to Data Center LLC, the company behind the project, for comment but did not get a response. The company's CEO told the Wilmington News Journal he's still committed to having the facility in Delaware.

There are people who would still like to see this happen in another part of northern Delaware.
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