Former McRae’s getting $35 million remake as Venyu data storage center

Baton Rogue’s Venyu Solutions is set to convert the first McRae’s Department Store into the technology company’s fourth data storage and cloud-based data center.

Venyu Solutions said data storage equipment purchases and the conversion of the circa 1960 former Fondren store property represent a $35million investment. The center that will open along the 300 block of Meadowbrook Road will join two centers in Baton Rouge and one in Shreveport.

Tony Curb, Venyu’s executive VP of business development and general counsel, said in an interview last week no time frame has been set for converting the 100,000 square-foot building. “There’s quite a lot of buildout,” he said. “It’s a relatively old building. We’re still in the planning stages.”

Curb said Venyu closed on the property last month and must fortify the building to withstand the wind forces of a strong hurricane. “We take a lot of other things into consideration. The ability to withstand strong wind speeds is one of them. You don’t want to be underneath a wall.”

Once operating, the center will employ 30 to 40 people but will also be contracting for services from local technology companies and others. “Contractors will be needed n various capacities,” Curb said.

For the community it will bring additional technologies

and services to small, medium and large companies. And maybe even new technologies,” he noted.

Curb said Venyu had its eye on Jackson for a number of years before committing to the new data and cloud storage center. Included in the decision is the potential for business growth from Metro Jackson companies needing off-site data storage. “Some businesses in Jackson want to be closer to their [data] infrastructure” but don’t necessarily want the storage to be on their premises, he said.

Other companies such as ones on the eastern seaboard prefer data be stored in less weather-vulnerable locations. Jackson fills that need, Curb said.

New centers to follow Jackson are under consideration, but for now the focus is on the Meadowbrook Road project, Curb said. “We see Jackson as a natural fit for our poducts and services.”

The privately owned Venyu provides data and cloud storage as well as data backup and recovery services, all of which require a substantial investment in servers and other equipment. “Customers may buy one or more services from us. Or they may buy them all. This expands our capacity to take on more customers.”

Venyu services customers nationwide. As a private company,it does not disclose details on company growth, according to Curb, who added, however, Venyu would not be investing in a new center if business was static.

Venyu was in business before Katrina but the company’s success in protecting customer data through the 2005 hurricane proved the value of well-protected data storage. “We have a success story,” Curb said. “A lot of the businesses that would have otherwise been impacted survived Katrina well” in terms of data storage..