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ServaxNet LLC Renovates Old 1960s Building

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ServaxNet LLC Renovates Old 1960s Building: For the better part of the last 16 years, the blue-brick former Penn Power building on the corner of East Washington and Jefferson streets has been a blank canvas for New Castle’s next businesses.

There were plans for a television studio, daycare and apartments. Then plans for a veterans housing project, which would have then transferred ownership of the building from owner Paul Lynch ⁠— who bought the structure at auction for $222,750 (including auction fees) in December 2005 ⁠— to the Human Services Center.

RELATED: CONSTRUCTING A DATA CENTER NEAR INTERNET BACKBONE

A church used the first-floor lobby area as a meeting place and until recently the city’s Christmas decorations were stored there.

Now, the 42,000-square foot building built in the early 1960s is in the midst of a total renovation in order to reinvent itself once more as a server and data center. Purchasing it from Lynch in October for $85,000, ServaxNet LLC of El Paso, Texas, has had a small group of workers tasked with the clean-up project.

Leading the renovations, though, is company chief operating office Daniel Romanowski, who moved to the city last March as ServaxNet expanded its footprint toward the East Coast.

“At the end of the day, I have experience building out data centers and I also have the experience of hiring contractors to do it,” Romanowski said, adding he’s built out seven data centers when he was in Texas. “More often than not you wind up with an inadequate end result (with contractors).”

New Castle was chosen in part because of its affordable commercial real estate. The company also has data centers in El Paso and Las Vegas.

With no large setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, renovations have been ongoing. The plan is to have the data center up and running in about two months, company marketing director Dan Effinite said.

Lately, renovations have included cutting out rear windows on the second and third floors for equipment to be moved into the building. That’s because the elevator is currently in-operational due to being left on the ground floor where several inches of water over the years leaked inside.

The elevator will be working in the future to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it was noted. The company also will comply with a city contract to have at least eight employees although hiring more is in the plans.

ServaxNet plans to operate the data centers which include cabinets full of computers and wires taking up about 17,000 square feet. That leaves half the building as office space that can be used by outside companies.

“We’re going to be using other office space for growth as well as renting it out as we deem fit,” Effinite said, adding suitors inside the technology center could include a call center or business incubator.

The fully renovated and cleaned out front lobby is another area of growth Romanowski said he wants to capitalize on. Previously, the ground-floor area facing Kennedy Square was filled with toilets and other building materials as well as the city’s Christmas lights that adorn light posts throughout downtown.

The lights are staying, albeit in a different room, while the toilets were donated to the Disabilities Options Network Services.

That leaves a wide-open space that is being envisioned as a coffee shop or just a WiFi lounge. Since the company doesn’t do any person-to-person commerce, the idea of using one of the largest downtown spaces as a meeting spot is something Romanowski wants in the future.

The company, in November, was approved for a $200,000 loan request from city council’s Enterprise Zone Revolving Loan Fund, to be paid back at two percent interest.

“City council has been extremely helpful,” Effinite said. During renovations, the company has been in contact with council members and Lawrence County commissioners, both which have given their well-wishes.

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