Facebook seeks bonds to expand Los Lunas data center - Albuquerque Journal

Facebook seeks bonds to expand Los Lunas data center

A rendering from Facebook as to what the first six buildings at the data center in Los Lunas will look like when completed. Currently, building five and six are under construction and Facebook plans to add even more buildings two in the initial phase and up to six if fully built out if its latest series of industrial revenue bonds are approved in March by the village council. (Courtesy of Facebook)

LOS LUNAS – Facebook’s subsidiary Greater Kudu LLC filed an application for billions of dollars’ worth of industrial revenue bonds that could lead to the Los Lunas data center being enlarged to twice its current size.

In late January, the Los Lunas Village Council voted to move forward with the process, and it will consider the bonds next month.

The six bonds total $6.6 billion. They would help Greater Kudu LLC expand the Facebook Data Center. The proposal covers up to six additional buildings, with two specifically mentioned as being built in the next two years. That number reflects what the company intends to spend on the project in full.

Currently, the data center has three fully operational buildings, and the fourth is nearly ready. The fifth and sixth buildings are still under construction, a technology communications spokeswoman for Facebook said.

The data center provides storage for Facebook’s social media sites, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. It began operating in early 2019 and employs more than 200 people in either full time or contract positions. About 300 total jobs are projected if the new series of bonds is approved, according to the spokeswoman.

It will cost about $800 million to build and equip the next two buildings. The project will create hundreds of construction jobs and then up to 30 additional full-time positions once it is completed.

An industrial revenue bond – otherwise known as an IRB – is a tax break for companies that plan to expand by way of construction and equipping of a future project.

The council’s agenda says, “The industrial revenue bonds would provide real property, personal property, gross receipts, and compensating tax exemptions to defray part or all of the costs of the project which may serve to encourage economic development in the area. … In return for tax exemptions, the applicant would agree to an annual payment in lieu of taxes for each data center.”

Incentives approved in 2016 for the project called for the waiving of Facebook’s property taxes for 30 years in exchange for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan that begins with $50,000 a year after the completion of the first building, up to $100,000 per year after the sixth building is completed.

Although the annual payment is not specified, the village and Greater Kudu LLC hope that the series of IRBs will be approved at the mid-March meeting. The village and the company are working through the application to make sure both parties’ needs are addressed.

“The village staff and village bond council are dealing with Greater Kudu LLC, and their staff and their bond council to develop an agreement,” said Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego.

The mayor said economic development will be critical in considering the IRBs.

Griego cited Facebook’s last round of grants sent to school districts in the county. Los Lunas Schools and Belen Consolidated Schools each received $100,000 for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

“I was considering the economic benefits that we would have at this time,” Griego said. “Facebook has been donating to schools and other nonprofits throughout the area to advance STEM education. I think it’s huge.”

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