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Westside data center expansion could threaten future Beltline trail, transit

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Near Bellwood Quarry, QTS wants to build a nearly 500,000 square foot facility

a picture of the current data center
QTS currently operates a more than 900,000-square-foot facility.
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What initially seemed like an innocuous zoning variance request by data center giant QTS could actually have more serious implications for a potential Atlanta Beltline trail on the Westside, as documents indicate.

QTS, which operates a more than 900,000-square-foot data center on Jefferson Street, just west of Bellwood Quarry, is planning to expand its Westside footprint with a nearly 500,000-square foot facility to the north and east of its current site.

The company is asking NPU-K to sign off on an exemption of parking space requirements.

After all, data centers are primarily filled with computer servers and other hefty tech hardware, so there’s no need for an abundance of parking, the company’s argument goes.

“By definition, the operation of a data center does not require or have significant numbers of onsite staff and visitors,” reads an application for a zoning adjustment.

The document adds: “To require [QTS] to provide 1,630 parking spaces on the subject property when the actual use of the property only necessitates 40 parking spaces would impose an unreasonable hardship on the use of the lot.”

The company also requested that the parking requirements for its current data center be reduced from 3,060 to 523 spaces.

It’s likely that few would have qualms with those changes if QTS’s plans for a data center expansion didn’t also preclude the development of a possible Beltline alignment at the site.

Atlanta Beltline

According the Beltline Subarea 9 Master Plan, the site at which QTS aims to build its new 488,900-square-foot data center could in the future host a multi-use path and transit line.

Atlanta is fast becoming an even bigger hub for data center development, according to Data Center Frontier. Even Facebook is planning a $750 million data center campus outside of the city.

But some neighbors have worried in emails to Curbed Atlanta what a large data center could mean for the fast-developing Westside, especially one that threatens to restrict Beltline progress.

QTS’s request for an exception to the parking requirements will go before the City of Atlanta’s Board of Zoning Adjustments on March 14.

QTS and Beltline officials did not respond to requests for comment as of press time. This story will be updated with any new information that comes.

This story was updated to include a map from the Beltline Subarea 9 Master Plan.