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Morning Hornet takes ownership of second $42B data center project
Facebook operated under same legal identity in similar 2018 deal at Stanton Springs
Stanton Springs
Pictured is an aerial view of Stanton Springs from early March 2021. The massive industrial park is home to Takeda and Meta’s Newton Data Center, and future home to Rivian and a second mystery data center. (Special | Newton County Industrial Development Authority via Aerial Innovations)

STANTON SPRINGS, Ga. — An unnamed industry operating as Morning Hornet LLC has taken ownership of the $42 billion data center project previously held by another undisclosed industry working as Baymare LLC.

Now, Morning Hornet becomes “owner of both data center projects,” said attorney Andrea Gray, who represents the Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties. Morning Hornet was the legal identity that Facebook (now Meta) operated under in a similar data center deal in 2018.

Documents obtained by The Covington News through an open records request to the JDA confirmed that Baymare assigned its interest in the data center project to Morning Hornet on Dec. 1. 

Why Baymare relinquished ownership to Morning Hornet is unknown. So, too, is the identity of the industry (or industries) represented by Baymare and Morning Hornet.

Initially reported in early March, bond documents showed the JDA approved a $42 billion bond in February to Baymare LLC for a large-scale project, and also a purchase and sale agreement for more than 628.5 acres of land, priced at $62,500 per acre.

The bond documents were strikingly similar to ones approved in 2018 for the Meta Newton Data Center. Both bond issues approved by the JDA were for $42 billion. Both bond issues were to fund “a data center and economic development project.” Baymare and Morning Hornet were also both listed as Delaware limited liability companies.

As Morning Hornet takes ownership of the second $42 billion data center deal, bond documents and the project’s details become virtually identical.

Does this point to another major data center deal with Meta?

Serra Hall, who is executive director of Newton County Industrial Development Authority and chief recruiter for the JDA, would neither confirm nor deny that the data center would be for Meta.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have Meta and Newton Data Center out at Stanton Springs for many years now,” she told The Covington News on Wednesday. “We’re now thrilled to welcome Morning Hornet to Stanton Springs.”

Meta officials could not be reached for comment prior to this publication.

Exactly when the identity of the incoming industry might be revealed remains unclear. However, Hall said the project was “moving ahead nicely.”

Construction of the data center, which will total approximately 2 million square feet located at Stanton Springs South, will be completed in phases, bond documents state. 

Phase 1, which is estimated to cost $750 million, is expected to be finished by Dec. 31, 2026. With 900,000 square-feet of interior space, the Phase 1 facility’s completion will add approximately 50 new jobs. Phases 2, 3 and 4 facilities are estimated to cost $550 million each for 400,000 square-feet of interior space per facility, and each phase will have completion dates in 2028, 2030 and 2032, respectively. 

The listed dollar amounts and facility dimensions were identical to those found within bond documents for the 2018 deal.

As approved by all four counties, Morning Hornet will make payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, starting in April 2027 at $2 million and increase by $1 million every two years until April 2033, totaling $5 million per year. The payments will be due even if the phases are not completed on time.

Newton and Walton counties will receive 37.5% of the revenue, Morgan County will receive 15% and Jasper County 10%.

The PILOT payments will compensate the four counties for lost tax revenue due to the tax exempt status of the property.

The bonds will be issued as what are commonly called “phantom bonds,” where the JDA issues the bonds and then Morning Hornet purchases them. The JDA will take title to the project and then lease it to Morning Hornet for a period of time so the bonds can remain tax exempt.

Though Morning Hornet will appear to make rent payments to cover debt services on the bonds, no money will change hands since the company will have bought the bonds.

School and county property taxes will be abated during construction.

As part of the deal, Morning Hornet will also provide up to $3 million to fund construction of a two-lane frontage road that runs parallel to the project and a spur to improve traffic flow, which will begin as soon as the deal is completed.

Morning Hornet will also pay the JDA a bond issuance fee of $1.5 million.