Microsoft Corp. has selected West Des Moines as the site of its new $500 million data center.

The center will be built on a 42-acre parcel at the intersection of Booneville Road and Xavier Place and will house large-scale World Wide Web services for Microsoft's online services business. It will employ 50 to 75 people, with an average salary $70,000.

The city already has approved the grading plan for the site and work began last week. At last night's Plan and Zoning Commission meeting, it also agreed to amend the planned unit development, increasing building heights to 60 feet from 40 feet. The change will go to the City Council for a first reading Monday.

The land is part of a 821-acre parcel owned by W&G McKinney Farm LLC called the West Grand Business Park.

Microsoft is still finalizing the design for the facility, but Gov. Chet Culver said in an announcement at the state Capitol this morning that it will be "one of the most modern facilities" Microsoft has built in the world.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Congressman Leonard Boswell, Microsoft executives and state and West Des Moines community leaders joined Culver in making the announcement of the new data center.

After looking at several locations, Michael Manos, general manager for Microsoft's data center services said in a release, "Iowa provided the best all-around combination of attributes that we evaluate in an important selection such as this. The data center will be a great investment for Iowa, Microsoft and all our online customers."

"I am absolutely committed to bringing high-quality, innovative jobs to Iowa," Culver said, "and with Microsoft's help, we're doing just that."