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Amazon purchases 42 acres in Warrenton for $39.7 million

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Amazon Web Services, Inc. purchased 42 acres (highlighted in red) in Warrenton Sept. 21. The company hopes to build a data center on the property.

According to land transfers filed with Fauquier County last week, Amazon Web Services, Inc. has purchased 41.8 acres of land at Blackwell Road and U.S. 17 and Lee Highway in Warrenton.

Although no application has been submitted to the town for a data center, Amazon has expressed interest in building one in Warrenton. The land, located behind Country Chevrolet, is zoned industrial and has been named one of only two tracts of land in Warrenton that could host a data center.

The Warrenton Town Council on Aug. 10 passed a text amendment allowing data centers – with a special exception permit – in industrial areas.

John Foote, an attorney representing Amazon Web Services, appeared before the Warrenton Planning Commission May 25 to say ““I have the authorization to put in an application” as soon as the town makes a decision on whether to allow data centers.

Denise Harris, planning manager of the Town of Warrenton’s Department of Community Development, said Tuesday that the town has not received any data center applications as yet.

With the purchase finalized last week, Amazon Data Services maintains 100% interest in the property, paying Wilson LLC $32,159,714 and MFW Holdings LLC $7,543,636.

According to Fauquier County GIS, the 41.70 acres is assessed at $3,336,800.

At the Aug. 10 town council meeting, David Dobson of Rixeyville told the council members that he had a 21.7-acre parcel in Warrenton just across U.S. 17 from the potential AWS site. He asked the council to reduce its minimum data center lot size from 25 acres to 20 acres to allow his site to be linked to Amazon’s or to serve the federal government. The council approved the text amendment, clearing the way for an application from Amazon and allowing for data centers on 20 acres.

Town council members emphasized at the Aug. 10 meeting that any specific data center application would be looked at carefully to make sure it would not negatively impact residents’ quality of life. The special use permit process allows the council to put further restrictions on any potential data center proposal.

Fauquier already has two data centers, with others either stalled or on hold.

One, owned and operated by the French OVH Groupe SAS, was constructed in Vint Hill in 2019. A nearby 80-acre parcel in Vint Hill was re-zoned in November 2018 to allow for construction of a data center, but none has yet been built. Another is located at the Warrenton Training Center, northwest of town. Reportedly run by Vadata, an Amazon subsidiary, it generated county tax revenue of $2.1 million on its equipment in 2020.

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