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Apple paid a premium to relocate family for NC data center


Apple paid as much as $1.7 million for one acre of land near its $1 billion North Carolina data center, which is nearing completion.

County records obtained by Bloomberg show that Apple purchased Donnie and Kathy Fulbright's one-acre property near Maiden, N.C., for $1.7 million. The Fulbrights had purchased the land for $6,000 and lived there for over 30 years. By comparison, the initial purchase of the land for the data center may have cost as little as $35,000 an acre.

It took several offers from Apple for the Fulbrights to consider moving. "They told us to put a price on it and we did," Kathy Fulbright told Bloomberg. Using the funds from the sale, the Fulbrights purchased a 49-acre piece of land with a 4,200-square-foot-house and a Jacuzzi, the report noted.

Apple's continued success drives increased need for such a large data center. “Apple’s growth has been pretty dramatic and they have probably exceeded their capacity,” said David Cappuccio chief of research at Gartner. “Between iTunes and the video store they are going to have, you’re talking about massive amounts of data and millions of people trying to access that at the same time.”

During an earnings call in July, Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer told investors that the data center is "on schedule" and that Apple expects "to complete it by the end of the calendar year, and begin to use it." The Cupertino, Calif., company announced the project in June 2009.

Though the data center is widely viewed as the foundation for Apple's expansion into streaming video and other media, Gartner's Cappucio believes the center may also be used for as-yet-unannounced initiatives, such as social networking and web search, according to the Bloomberg report.

Codenamed 'Project Dolphin' by government officials, the $1 billion data center is expected to not only directly provide jobs for 50 people, but also generate 250 auxiliary jobs and create as many as 3,000 peripheral jobs for the local area.

The conditions for Apple's tax breaks included a stipulation that Apple build the center in an "economically-distressed area." Catawba County, where the complex is located, had an unemployment rate of 12.3 percent in August, compared with a state unemployment rate of 9.7 percent.

Bloomberg reported that Apple had received a sizable 50 percent reduction in real property taxes, and an 85 percent reduction in individual property taxes, according to the minutes of a meeting between the Catawba County Board of Commissioners and the Maiden Town Council. In return, Apple committed to spending at least $1 billion over the course of the ten year agreement and maintaining the expected 50 full time jobs at the center.