If you owned a piece of land large enough to accommodate a 1 million-square-foot data center, chances are your heart raced a tad a few months ago when word spread that Facebook was planning to add such a big box in Greater Des Moines.


Typically, that would have meant Altoona, where Facebook has completed or is in the process of completing 1.6 million square feet of data center construction.


As it turns out, Facebook apparently has decided to stay in town, with the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission considering the latest site plan, this time for Facebook’s Project Sequelant — don’t bother finding any data center relevance to “sequelant” in the dictionary, the word isn’t there. The online Power Thesaurus does offer coda, conclusion and consequence as synonyms.


That will bring even more construction activity to a town that isn’t hurting for construction projects. The challenge for Altoona — and what at one time drove Facebook to look for other spots in Greater Des Moines to land its Project Sequelant — is finding the revenues to support a development agreement that suits the social media pioneer.


You would think that if the city can find two pennies to scratch together, that would be enough. Facebook reported record profits of nearly $7 billion in the fourth quarter on revenues of $16.9 billion. Not bad for a company that spent a good part of the year fending off scandals.


Altoona doesn’t want to tap property tax relief. It gave up 20 years of property taxes in 2013 when Facebook secured $18 million in state incentives. Those state incentives require a local match. For Altoona, that meant waiving all property taxes for Facebook for two decades.


In 2017, Facebook maneuvered another $8 million in state sales tax relief for a second round of construction. Altoona found its local match in the form of franchise fee revenues. The exact value of the franchise fee relief has not been determined, City Administrator Jeff Mark said.


Mark isn’t answering questions about Facebook’s search for new land. He simply cautions that although the Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a site plan for Facebook’s latest $250 million construction project, the city is searching to find a way to fulfill its local match obligation, assuming, of course, the Iowa Economic Authority board grants state incentives for Project Sequelant.


Nonetheless, Facebook was sampling local land offerings just a few months ago. We can only assume it was looking for the best incentive deal on the landscape.