Douglasville could see construction of a $200 million data center and be home to a new downtown recreational attraction.
The Douglasville City Council Monday approved a resolution giving a time-limited, performance-based property tax incentive to a company for construction of a new data center in eastern Douglasville.
Council members also approved a special use permit for construction of an “escape room” recreational facility inside an existing building near the old county courthouse.
The company planning the data center, identified only as Project Smart, is based in Dallas, Texas, and will be investing $200 million in the project in three phases over a series of years, spokesman Jeff Hill told council members during a Thursday work session.
Hill told Councilman Mike Miller the company planned to remain in Douglasville for many years rather than departing within half a decade and leaving “an empty box.”
“It’s tough to make decisions when we’re giving away stuff,” Miller said, in reference to the tax abatement plan. “Sometimes, we don’t always get stuff.”
Development authority director Chris Pumphrey said construction is planned on a 44-acre site in the Riverside Business Park in eastern Douglasville,
Though the tax incentive would affect both the building owner’s tax bill and the flow of revenue to the city, the company’s clients would store computer servers in the data center valued at about $600 million which could be taxed in full as personal property, Pumphrey said.
He said the company will initially employ only five people but ultimately will house 48 workers after it is completed.
A recently completed list of county target industries included data centers, which typically do not place a major demand on services and infrastructure, he said. Douglasville and Douglas County already are home to data centers for Google, Price Waterhouse and others, Pumphrey said.
He said the city development authority voted unanimously to recommend the council approve the incentive plan.
Councilman Richard Segal also noted the company will pay to use electric service, and sales taxes will be paid on electricity the company uses.
He said during the Nov. 20 council meeting he was happy a data center was being built on Riverside Drive because a product distribution center would have placed more tractor-trailer traffic on the road that area residents did not need.
In other action, the council approved a request for a one-year special land use permit for an “escape room” facility at 8840 E. Courthouse Square in the city’s historic downtown area.
Escape room attractions have proven popular in the Atlanta area in recent years. They typically require eight to 10 people to work as a team to solve a series of clues and escape from a locked space within one hour, said applicant William Brad Kimmel.
He told council members he and two partners currently operate a similar family-oriented escape room attraction called Escape Woods in Powder Springs. The business, located on a working farm, attracts everyone from families to corporate team-building participants from throughout north Georgia, Kimmel said.
He said he wants to open his second escape room facility in the 4,600-square-foot, multi-story building in downtown Douglasville in part because it has nearby dining options that Escape Woods lacks.
Building co-owner Brandon Thompson said such an amusement business could be a boon to neighboring businesses grow, as well.
“We can build a community around Douglasville to have entertainment that is family-friendly as well as, hopefully, grow our restaurant base,” Thompson said.