The Data Center Boom in Prince William County: Growth, Challenges, and Community Impact

Real Estate, Land Use & Construction Law

The Data Center Boom in Prince William County: Growth, Challenges, and Community Impact

Apr 4, 2024 | Real Estate, Land Use & Construction Law

The emergence of Northern Virginia, specifically Prince William County, as a burgeoning data center hub encapsulates a dynamic intersection of technological advancement and community response. This region, on track to surpass Loudoun County as the data center capital of the world, exemplifies the massive infrastructural and economic transformations driven by the digital era. With over forty-five existing data centers and potential expansion to 80 million square feet, Prince William County’s trajectory illustrates the immense scale of data center proliferation.

However, this growth is not without contention. Local opposition underscores concern about environmental impact, including power consumption, water usage, and potential quality-of-life degradation. This sentiment is palpable in community responses to the perceived encroachment of data centers, highlighting a critical dialogue on sustainable development and community impact.

Recent approvals for major projects, like the 181-acre data center campus linked to Google, signify a continuation of this trend, highlighting the region’s strategic importance for global tech giants. This development, leveraging existing industrial zoning and proximity to other significant tech projects, demonstrates the strategic site selection pivotal to data center expansion. The acquisition of large land parcels by Microsoft for $465.5 million, designated for data center use, further exemplifies the substantial investments and the strategic importance of this locale in the global data infrastructure landscape.

The approval process of the Digital Gateway project in Prince William County serves as a prime example of the intricate zoning and land use challenges faced in accommodating large-scale data center developments. Despite initial recommendations for denial by planning staff and the Planning Commission, due to concerns over site layout, building footprints, and potential environmental impacts, the Board of County Supervisors ultimately approved the project. This decision underscores the balancing act between fostering economic development and addressing environmental and community concerns.

The global outlook for data centers, as delineated in JLL’s 2024 report, points to a sustained demand driven by the digital economy’s expansion and the advent of generative AI. This demand necessitates innovative approaches in data center design, operations, and power sourcing to meet escalating power requirements and sustainability goals. The industry faces a pivotal shift towards more efficient, high-density, and sustainable operations, reflecting broader trends in technology and environmental stewardship. In conclusion, Prince William County’s evolution into a data center stronghold encapsulates broader trends in digital infrastructure growth, embodying the opportunities and challenges of this expansion. Balancing technological advancements with sustainable development and community concerns will be paramount as this region cements its status in the global data center ecosystem.

If you have questions about the impact of data centers on land use and zoning or need assistance with another real estate matter, please contact Andrew Gregg, at or (703) 284-7254.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not contain or convey legal advice. Consult a lawyer. Any views or opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily the views of any client.


Follow us on LinkedIn to view the latest blogs from our team.

About – Business Insights

Our business blog focuses on issues affecting Virginia, D.C. and Maryland business owners as well as those in other jurisdictions throughout the country. We provide timely insight and commentary on federal and state rules and how they affect you. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

About – Employment Law

As employment law constantly changes, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman stay up to date on the law as it develops. Our blog topics focus on those changes and what you need to know about them, ranging from severance agreements and the FLSA to social media in the workplace and recent court decisions. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

About- Real Estate

This blog focuses on real estate, land use and construction-related topics affecting Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area. With topics ranging from contract drafting and negotiation to local and regional land use project updates, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman provide timely insight and commentary on the issues affecting owners, builders, developers, contractors, subcontractors and other players in the industry. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.