Apple’s Reno data center ramps up for significant expansion

But Apple's investment in Reno itself may never come to pass.
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor

The Reno Gazette-Journal has reported that Apple has applied for permits to construct two additional datacenter cluster buildings on its 345-acre campus during their announced Phase 1 construction development.  This brings the total number of datacenter clusters in this first phase to eight, a number which includes the initial rapid deployment center that was the first facility to go live on the Nevada campus earlier this year. 

But if you think that Apple is looking to just meet current demand and near term projections with this rapid datacenter growth, think again. While they have not yet applied for the building permits, they have poured eight additional pads for datacenter cluster buildings on the campus during the Phase 1 construction. Apple also completed their announced Phase 2 this year with the opening of a dedicated administration building on the campus, bringing the total number of buildings on the campus to nine.

While it sounds like everything is rosy in Apple’s Reno datacenter land, the RGJ reports that this actually isn’t the case. The growth and construction in the Reno technology park campus continues apace, but Apple has yet to do anything with the property it acquired in downtown Reno.

Contractually, Apple is required to develop the property in order to qualify for the $73 million in tax breaks that the city kicked in as part of the overall $89 million tax incentive package that was offered to Apple to sweeten the deal to build (and anchor) in the Reno technology park. Assistant City Manager Bill Thomas has been quoted as saying that there has been nothing but silence on Apple’s end regarding the downtown location.

While a $73 million discount probably sounds like a lot of money to the city of Reno, consider it in this context. The city’s total revenue in 2013 was about $165 million. Apple’s revenue in 2013 was $171 billion (over $37 billion in profit).  So take a look at those numbers and try to imagine just how much or little the $73 million in tax breaks over 10 years will affect Apple’s decision process.

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