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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

As Data Center 'Halls' Sit Empty, Washington Casts Wider Net For Tenants

Washington Consolidated Technology Services
Washington has two unused data center halls available for lease, but so far there have been no takers.

The search is widening for tenants to fill Washington’s overbuilt data center. Efforts to lease the 26,000 square feet of highly-secure warehouse space to the private sector have so far been unsuccessful.

To take a tour, you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. So let’s just say you pass through a lot of secure doors.

Rob St. John oversees the state data center. He described it as “very warehouse-like.”

Picture an unfinished space about the size of an indoor soccer arena with 20-foot ceilings and a concrete floor. Washington built four of these data center halls. But now it only needs two of them -- servers are getting smaller.

“We’re open to almost any sort of alternate use,” St. John said.

Even something out of a spy-thriller. Michael Cockrill, Washington’s Chief Information Officer, suggested a SCIF -- Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. It’s a safe room where classified documents can be handled, stored and discussed.

“It’s mostly military,” Cockrill said. “There’s also a growing need for secret and top secret information just in the private sector.”

Bottom line: the state still hopes this space is a diamond in the rough, not a white elephant.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."