Letter to the Town Board: Commercial data storage facility at Chappaqua Crossing makes no sense
With 10 COMMENTS since Friday
November 5, 2010
by Michael Merchant
Dear Members of the Town Board,
I think that as you make your final decision for the Reader’s Digest property it is worth considering the proposals of the developer and whether they are realistic.
I am specifically addressing their proposal of turning 142,000 square feet of the commercial space into a server storage farm for companies, a low-intensity use, as the developer has described it, to limit requirements for parking and traffic. I have spent approximately 15 years of my life building such large corporate facilities, so I believe I have some understanding of the issues.
The idea that this site can be turned into an appealing site for company data center / server storage in my opinion makes no sense for the following reasons:
a. The site is only served by one power center, like most of Chappaqua. To make it worse, almost all the power is via telephone poles rather than underground. Last year my house lost power for four days and I only live a quarter mile from Reader’s Digest. No company is going to put critical data storage at the mercy of an unreliable power grid.
b. Providing reliable power from multiple sources will likely be a multimillion-dollar expense.
2. COST OF POWER:
a. Westchester is probably one of the most expensive places in the United States for electrical power. It would be fair to say power costs 300% to 400% in New York State more than for other states where power is generated by hydro-power.
b. Server equipment is exceptionally power-intensive. The cost for power in this area alone is a deal breaker. Why would any company host equipment in Westchester when alternatives throughout the United States are much more reasonable?
3. COST OF REAL ESTATE:
a. While I don’t know what the cost would be for leasing space it will certainly be considerably more than other options for companies. Why pay Class-A rates when options exist elsewhere for a fraction of the cost?
4. TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONNECTIVITY:
a. This is probably more critical than the power issue. A remote hosting site is only effective if you have guaranteed 100% uptime communications. Those communications must be high speed (i.e. large bandwidth) and, most importantly, reliable.
b. Readers Digest, like the rest of Chappaqua (to my knowledge), is served by over head telephone lines. Any tree branch or ice storm can bring down all communications as has happened to both my house and office in Chappaqua on multiple occasions.
c. Absolutely no responsible company would take the risk of outages such as those that exist in this area.
d. The other issue is multiple access to more than one central office. What I mean by this is there should be connectivity from different central offices (i.e. Chappaqua and Mt. Kisco) vs. being reliant on just one point of failure (Verizon Chappaqua office).
e. Companies in the business of company data center / server storage would also want to be connected via separate central offices to all primary carriers; Verizon, AT&T, etc. Having all the carriers use the same telephone poles would NOT BE ACCEPTABLE to any responsible company.
Far-fetched to think Summit Greenfield would spend millions to make this work
To be honest, the idea that Summit Greenfield would have any success at leasing so much space for this function seems farfetched at best and the only way it would appear practicable to companies is if a tremendous amount of infrastructure (power and communications) were brought into the facility via secure underground and redundant connections. That would mean major digging up of Route 117 and all other access points from the nearest power distribution points and communications vendors. The utility and communications companies are not going to pay for that. Is Summit Greenfield going to spend the likely millions of dollars to make this happen for 142,000 square feet of the 600 building?
Given this, I think it’s just another promise they are making realizing that when it doesn’t work, as they must know it won’t, they can come back to the town and say “we tried and the market was bad” so now we would like to convert the 142,000 square feet of space into additional housing or other profitable use.
I will reiterate my position that I made during the September 28 meeting on Chappaqua Crossing. I would exert your rights and decline their variance requests regarding housing or any variance requests at this time. Eventually the developer will come back with a plan that benefits the town.
Or, in the alternative, the developer might make the town an offer that allows the town to purchase the entire property at a substantially reduced rate since it would appear that clearly, without the town changing current zoning regulations, the developer cannot make the property work as he purchased it. Furthermore, the current proposal to make the property work also doesn’t work.