Sibley Mill Redevelopment Project Announced
Thursday, May 5th, 2016
At a press conference, the Augusta Canal Authority announced a 75-year ground lease of its Sibley Mill property to Cape Augusta Digital Properties, LLC. Cape Augusta will be the master developer of a state-of-the- art cyber campus, which stands to both galvanize Augusta’s growing status as one of the world’s cyber technology hubs and transform one of the most beautiful and historically significant properties in the region. The long-term lease was approved at a called meeting of the Authority on April 25. The development, known as The Augusta Cyber Works, is envisioned as a cyber-technology park, anchored by a 10 Megawatt Tier 3 Data Center and complemented with a campus that supports a wide range of cyber-related employers and educational facilities.
In late 2014 Cape Augusta approached the Authority with their interest in placing a data center inside the 136-year old former cotton mill. Cape Augusta spent the last 18 months on comprehensive due-diligence on the site and is in the process of finalizing the design of a cutting-edge data center inside the historic mill. The developers expect to sublease portions of the redeveloped mill and surrounding campus to technology companies, data center users and operators, integrators and cyber-educators. Data centers supply the critical commodity that powers the exploding information technology revolution that defines how businesses transact and communicate, and are imperative for all technology centered activity.
James Ainslie, Chief Executive Officer of Cape Augusta, indicated that the site would be a phenomenal asset to the city. “For Augusta to be a go-to destination in technology it must take bold steps to be competitive with the major technology markets. The fact of the matter is that the Augusta Cyber Works development has all the components necessary to galvanize the research and development and commercial activity that are required to focus the incredible energy that we see in Augusta around cyber.”
Ainslie continued, “For cyber to be a success in Augusta, strong coordination and collaboration with all of the stakeholders is necessary. This is not our story, this is Augusta’s story, and is an appropriate means of redefining these mills, which were such a vital component of Augusta’s economic vision for the 19th and 20th Centuries. This new chapter reestablishes the site as an asset leveraged for the entire CSRA.
The Authority will continue to operate the hydropower plant inside the mill and provide Cape Augusta electricity and water for cooling the data center’s computers. “The existing hydro generators in these mills offer a vital and unique opportunity for this facility to be more efficient and sustainable,” says Ainslie. “We expect our data center and campus to be a reference study for the implementation of green energy.”
Dayton Sherrouse, Executive Director of the Augusta Canal Authority, stated: “I am more than pleased that the eighteen-month negotiation process is now complete, and excited to see new economic life from one of Augusta’s most significant historic structures. This is a game changer for Augusta.” He further stated that the Authority and this campus will support ongoing cyber-related activities in Augusta such as the Cyber Command Center at Fort Gordon and the cyber-educational activities recently announced by Augusta University.
Ainslie added, “As has already been hinted by Augusta University President, Brooks Keel, our vision includes a robust partnership with Augusta University. They are an incredibly important stakeholder for our project and will be instrumental in shaping how we plan our development. Dr Keel and his team have taken a brave step with their Cyber Institute. We will do whatever we can to ensure that their ambitions are supported and that their initiative is a success. Skills development and ‘Cyber Education’ are priorities to make Augusta attractive to our potential tenants, and we intend for this to be a major part of our facility and allow us to expand our net much more broadly than that associated with a conventional data center campus.”
Wayne Millar, Cape Augusta’s Chairman, added that Cape Augusta is fortunate to enjoy broad commitments from investors across the United States and the United Kingdom. “Our diverse investor group delivers more than capital, many of them bring successful technology careers to bear on our efforts. We are very fortunate to be in this position.” Millar said.
The Canal Authority purchased Sibley in 2010 after completing an extensive environmental assessment of the property and approval of Brownfield designation and a corrective action plan by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The Authority assumed operation of the mill’s hydropower plant after acquisition. With the goals of preserving the historic structures and finding an appropriate private redeveloper, the Authority undertook an extensive $1.3 million environmental cleanup starting in 2011 that will be completed within the next several months. The cleanup effort was funded in part by revenue from hydropower sales and by two Brownfield cleanup grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sibley Mill sits on the site of the former Confederate Powder Works; its 153-foot chimney still dominates the property’s skyline. Constructed from bricks from the demolished Powder Works buildings, Sibley Mill ceased operation as a textile plant in 2006 after continuous operation since 1882. Additionally the Canal Authority, which owns the adjacent King Mill, has granted Cape Augusta the rights to expand this initial development beyond Sibley to include King Mill as Standard Textile brings its operations to a close.
Ainslie said Phase 1 ground breaking is planned within a matter of weeks. Cape Augusta will host a launch event at the historic mill site and unveil the Cyber Works development in more detail.