Controversial Washington data center project opens

Jul 19, 2011

The newest building on Washington's capitol campus came in under budget, but nonetheless remains controversial. The doors opened Monday on the office tower portion of a new $300 million data center complex.

On day one, orange-clad construction workers put the finishing touches on the limestone-clad building. Eventually it will hold nearly 1,000 workers from nine different Washington state agencies that are consolidating into two.

Rents in the building are nearly double the going rate in Thurston County. But project spokeswoman Joanne Todd explains the state will own the building after 30 years.

"The state will have an asset that will last a long time," Todd says. "And this building was built to last unlike a lot of leased buildings."

Controversy remains over the data center portion of the project. Critics say it is overbuilt.

There are four data halls, but the state only plans to use two of them. The goal is to lease the other two to the private sector, but there's no guarantee of a willing tenant.  

"We still have a mess on our hands,” says Democratic State Representative Reuven Carlyle, a frequent critic of the project.

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