The New York Times real estate section had a piece by this past week by Jotham Sederstrom: North Jersey Finds Popularity as Home for Data Centers. In this down economy, on one of the few growing real estate markets is in the construction of data centers. In New Jersey two million square feet of data center space is in some stage of construction. Multiply that by average costs of $1,200 per square feet, and you have $2.4 billion dollars going into this industry in New Jersey alone. The reason northern New Jersey is quickly becoming home to this industry is its close proximity to New York City, but without the immense real estate costs associated with building in the city itself. To quote the article at length:
"Data center providers and industry analysts said that North Jersey was an ideal location for the data needs of New York City’s large financial services industry. In a business that does countless transactions in a second, a greater distance would add milliseconds to every action taken online, but if the center is situated too close to Manhattan, construction costs can soar. Michael Boccardi, chief executive of Cervalis, a 10-year-old data center provider with facilities in Connecticut and New York State, said his company chose a site in Passaic County for its first New Jersey facility for those reasons.
“We felt that we wanted to be close but not too close, but still within that core 25-mile vicinity of New York City,” Mr. Boccardi said of the 150,000-square-foot operation, which he said would open by the end of the month and accommodate many of the financial services firms that were affected by Sept. 11."
That financial service firms located in lower Manhattan will soon exist partially in north Jersey is a strange element of contemporary, digital urbanism: the urban is not just connected to the suburban Passaic County through workers commuting into New York City, but also through the instantaneous, continual transmission of data back and forth between the offices full of workers but little computer equipment, and the data center, full of equipment but very few employees.
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Above is the satellite map of the location of 5851 Westside Avenue, North Bergen that the Times article focuses on. It is just two miles west of the Hudson River, across a bit of marshland from the New Jersey Turnpike. As urban society becomes more and more digital, the data that these actions produce has to be stored somewhere, often in places like this one.