October 19, 2012 - 16:34 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Apple has begun work on the first, $68 million phase of its new Prineville data center, clearing and flattening land for the one of two, 338,000 square-foot buildings atop the bluff that overlooks town, The Oregonian reports.
Each building is more than twice the size of a typical Costco store.
The price tag covers the cost of one building and two "data halls" inside. Plans filed with the city and Crook County last summer call for adding a second building and, eventually, 14 more data halls.
There's additional space on the property for more buildings, identified in planning documents in two sections marked "Future Development Area."
The total cost of the facility will likely run in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars once it's outfitted with powerful servers to run Apple's iCloud service.
Apple paid $5.6 million in February to buy 160 acres from Crook County, and promptly set up a small, 10,000 square foot modular data center on the site.
Only the modular facility is visible from the street. Apple, always secretive, restricts access to its main construction site, The Oregonian says.
Security personnel on the property declined to confirm their employer, even though Apple has acknowledged its Prineville plans and a guard had the iconic Apple logo stitched in black on his fleece jacket.
The company hasn't said when its first phase will open, or when other pieces might go up. It has said that "hundreds" of people will work on the Prineville facility, which will employ "dozens" when it's complete.
Facebook opened its first corporate data center last year, across the highway from Apple, and is currently expanding.
Large data centers from Google, Adobe, Amazon and others are building in several rural and suburban Oregon communities, drawn by moderate power prices and hefty tax breaks.
Apple has said its Prineville site will be powered entirely with renewable energy - wind, hydro, and geothermal power - purchased from local sources.