Plans for a large datacenter in Arcata are in the works, and appear to be connected to proposals to land undersea fiber optic cables on the Samoa Peninsula.
The proposed location is 1296 11th Street between L and M, which most recently served as an Arcata location for the Nilsen Feed Company and was recently purchased by global datacenter company EdgeConneX.
The Arcata Community Development Department first learned of potential datacenter plans back in February, when engineer Landon Stephens requested a pre-application meeting with the city about the property.
According to the meeting request form Community Development Director David Loya shared with the Outpost, the project proposal included “renovation of a 10,000 [square foot] hardware store into a Cable Landing Station with office space,” with plans to “provide primary power with fuel cells, backed up with utility power in addition to diesel generators.”
This prefatory meeting, mainly to determine what permits, if any, would be needed for the project, was the last time Loya heard anything about the datacenter project, he said.
The Outpost reached out to Stephens for more details on this proposed project. But, due to signing a non-disclosure agreement with EdgeConneX, he declined to comment.
Though the city hasn’t received any further inquiries about a datacenter project, a recent permit request shows plans for construction of a fiber optic cable network that would connect the 11th Street site to the Samoa Peninsula. Earlier this month an encroachment permit application was filed with the City of Arcata by Colorado-based company Vero Fiber Networks, which proposes to install conduit under about one mile of Arcata city streets. According to the permit application, obtained by the Outpost via Public Records Act request, the project consists of nine total miles of conduit, which would run from Highway 255 (Samoa Boulevard) and along parts of K, 10th, 11th and M Streets in Arcata.
Arcata City Engineer Netra Khatri told the Outpost that, although the encroachment permit makes no specific mention of the EdgeConnex property or the datacenter, he is confident that they are related, due to the project map containing plans for a “campus vault” on the 11th street property. [Note: The proposed plans are available to view at City Hall. But due to the nature of the documents the city could not make them available for publication.]
The Outpost’s attempts to reach Vero have been unsuccessful and Khatri has had about the same amount of luck, he said. Khatri said he has several questions about the project — including about the lack of a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) report included with the proposal — and he has left messages with Vero seeking clarification.
“I don’t think they’ve provided enough information with what they’ve submitted,” Khatri told the Outpost on Thursday afternoon. “Before we spend any time on it, we want to know more.”
The project appears to be connected to Inyo Networks’ Digital 299 Project, which proposes to bring high-speed internet to parts of Northern California by way of large fiber optic cables running from the Pacific coast to Redding, roughly parallel to Highway State Route 299. Part of the project includes proposals to run fiber optic cables up the wastewater discharge pipe that runs from Redwood Marine Terminal II — formerly the Samoa pulp mill — to tap into trunk lines off the coast.
Though the plans included in Vero’s permit application are only specific to the proposed construction within Arcata’s city limits, it seems clear that the cables would run to town from the Redwood Marine Terminal II on the Samoa Peninsula.
Once Khatri can get more information on the project, the city can begin the process for approving the permits. According to the permit application, construction of the Arcata fiber optic lines is estimated to begin early next year.
As far as plans for when the data center will be built and what this might mean for Arcata residents, it is hard to say.
Dean Perrine, a public relations representative for EdgeConneX would only tell the Outpost, “There isn’t anything to share on Arcata at this point.”
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