The town of Eatonville may finally see a business take shape on the site of the old Robert Hungerford Preparatory High School after years of bold — and failed — promises.
The current plans are much smaller than last year’s $200 million “World Transportation Exchange” that promised to convert the entire 117-acre site into an upscale hub for the sale of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, helicopters and corporate jets.
Instead, HostDime, a Web-hosting company based in University Park outside Orlando, is proposing to put its $18 million headquarters on the Wymore Road site. And it’s promising free Wi-Fi to all 2,000 of the town’s residents as well.
The seven-story, 110-foot-tall building would rise above Interstate 4 along 5 acres on the site, which the Orange County School Board agreed to allow Eatonville to sell to HostDime for $1.8 million.
The rest of the expansive acreage would be sold via an open request for proposals, or RFP, which would go out later this year.
In a statement, HostDime Director of Marketing Vikki Fraser said that Orlando architectural firm Baker Barrios has designed a “state-of-the-art,” “uber-contemporary” facility “with a flair unlike anything the technology community and the I-4 corridor has seen before.”
The building would combine the data company’s headquarters and its data center, currently in Eatonville on Kennedy Boulevard, in one structure.
“Our current data center now has about 5,000 servers, and we’re coming close to capacity with that,” Fraser said. “We were downtown [in Orlando] at the Chase Building. Then we came here [to University Park], and we’re outgrowing this.
“It’s just a matter of phenomenal growth for us.”
The headquarters, which would be able to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, would house three floors of data-center space for more than 35,000 servers — with more than 10 megawatts of power capacity — and a number of private amenities for clients, including a “sports court” and an indoor/outdoor event space on the top floor.
The front would feature a three-story-high atrium that would house “one of the largest mosaic video walls in the world,” an interactive display 36 feet tall and 10 feet wide.
“Back in 2003 when HostDime was a startup, many people would ask us, ‘Why are you building a data center in Orlando?’ And I would reply, ‘Why not?'” Fraser said.
“Fast-forward to today, and Orlando is seen as a major technology epicenter of the Southern United States. The caliber of the facility we are building is seen only in major metro areas such as New York or Los Angeles.”
The development would bring about $200,000 annually in new municipal taxes, Mayor Anthony Grant said. HostDime would also provide scholarships, programs and STEM training for Eatonville students and residents — and free Wi-Fi.
HostDime’s work force of 130 U.S. employees is 90 percent University of Central Florida students and graduates, with most of the remainder coming from Valencia College and Seminole State College.
“We are very conscious about the community,” said HostDime CEO Manny Vivar. “When we designed this facility, we kept the local education system and community in mind. We are creating a ‘how-it-works’ space in the facility so young students can be exposed to the behind-the-scenes of how a data center works and how it powers the cloud.”
Grant said that HostDime would be “a major anchor tenant” for the Hungerford property, which has been vacant since the prep school closed in 2009.
Councilman Eddie Cole, meanwhile, deferred comment on the project until he could get more information.
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New Developments about HostDime in Eatonville