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Amazon submits plans for multiple data centers in Mesa

Phoenix Business Journal Inc. has submitted plans that would significantly increase its footprint in the East Valley.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has filed presubmittal documents with Mesa’s planning office for two separate data centers about four miles apart in southeast Mesa. Both proposed projects would be built on land owned by Amazon.

The plans for the data centers are almost identical. Each plan calls for two data center halls at about 227,000 square feet apiece. If both projects end up being built, Amazon would add approximately 908,000 square feet of data center space in the Valley.

It is not clear whether Amazon intends to build both of the sites out to completion or if the company will work with the city of Mesa to determine which site would be best for the data center project. Amazon could not be reached for comment.

Amazon Web Services, the online retailer’s cloud computing arm, has become an integral part of the company’s business. In 2022, AWS brought $22.1 billion in revenue. The AWS segment has seen double-digit growth in both the first and second quarters of 2023.

One of the proposed data center sites is on 42.9 acres off Elliot Road, next door to the Apple Data Center in Mesa. The other is located on 71.3 acres at 10464 E. Pecos Road, just east of Legacy Park, the huge youth and amateur sports complex.

The narratives submitted to the city of Mesa for both projects have similar and sometimes the exact same wording.

“This project will bring employment to this rapidly developing area,” Amazon wrote in both of its narratives submitted to the city of Mesa.

National design firm Kimley-Horn prepared the conceptual site plans that were submitted to Mesa for both projects. The project narrative for the Elliot data center said that Ryan Cos. was involved in developing that site. Kimley-Horn and Ryan Cos. would not comment on this topic.

While it could be a lot to construct two similar data centers four miles away from each other, Amazon clusters many of its other data centers — including in the Seattle area, Northern California, Oregon and Northern Virginia.

Amazon acquired both of the Mesa sites being considered for data centers in December 2021. The company paid $16.9 million for the Elliot Road property; the Pecos property cost just over $18 million.

The Pecos site was also once considered for a 701,572-square-foot logistics building that would have been a last-mile delivery hub for Amazon. That development was called “Project Cork” and Ryan Cos. was attached to it. Public records show there has not been much movement around Project Cork since 2021.

Data centers are a somewhat controversial topic in development worlds. Data centers are a necessity for companies that provide web services like Amazon, Google and Facebook, but they also require a lot of real estate and use a lot of energy and water. Data centers also don’t typically produce that many well-paying jobs. Some cities in the Valley, including Chandler, have passed laws banning the development of new data centers in their city limits.

Mesa has embraced data centers. Just on Elliot Road – where Amazon is proposing to build – there are data centers owned by Apple and Facebook, while Google has also started construction on its own.


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