Prince William County Discounts Real Estate Assessment of Digital Gateway Properties

Some properties have been assessed at 2% their previous value


One would think taxes on the property would have skyrocketed for Pageland Lane residents following Prince William County’s rezoning to make way for the Prince William Digital Gateway in Catharpin; instead, they plummeted. To be clear, these are not assessments on properties neighboring the digital gateway, but the properties that will become the data center should legal challenges not obstruct the project. 

Citizen activists who rallied against the Prince William Digital Gateway have discovered that Prince William County has afforded tax breaks to Pageland Lane residents who collectively agreed to sell their properties to the world’s largest data center. The county finance office employed a formula that exponentially decreases the land’s assessed value.

The result is that residents will pay much less on commercial land than they did on their private residential/agricultural properties which had a limit of one home per 10 acres. This is despite QTS and Compass’s agreement to pay the same landowners $1 million per acre.

Gainesville resident Bill Wright discovered the assessments in county documents and swiftly informed his network of residents who opposed the Prince William Digital Gateway.

Wright sounded the alarm that Pageland's largest property owner, and broker of the agreement, saw her assessment drop by 98 percent its 2023 value. 

“Take a look at the latest assessment for Prince William Digital Gateway promoter Mary Ann Ghadban’s principal residence (Property Detail (, which dropped by 98%, from $1,829,200 in 2023 to $31,200 in 2024. Her 11.9518 acres are valued at $31,100 or $2,602 per acre. Her home, which was valued at $1,468,800 in 2023 is now valued at $100,” Wright wrote in an email. “What is going on here?”

Wright looked at the assessments of multiple Pageland residents and found some acres were valued at only $2,602 and homes were valued at only $100 even as they were still occupied. He noted that latest assessment for former Supervisor Pete Candland., according to (Property Detail (, dropped by 21%, from $1,040,700 in 2023 to $817,800 in 2024.

“His 5.702 acres are valued at $817,700 or $143,405 per acre. His home, which was valued at $791,600 in 2023 is now valued at $100,” Wright wrote to his followers, including other examples as well.

The assessments are incongruent with neighboring properties located outside the digital gateway zone. Their property values rose slightly from 2023 even though they are now zoned near industrial use.

Allison Lindner, Prince William County Assistant Director of Finance for Real Estate Assessments, provided Bristow Beat information on the assessments, copying the Prince William Board of Supervisors. She noted assessments are based on the property’s “highest value use.” “

"Rezoned parcels in Digital Gateway were determined to have the highest and best use as data center land and valued as such," she wrote.

While Prince William County typically assesses data centers at $1.5 million per acre per, her office applied an assessment reduction formula of $1,500,000 x (0.50 x 0.65 x 0.90), resulting in $438,750 per acre.  

The finance department decided to tax the Digital Gateway properties at 50 percent to account, she said, for legal challenges to the land designation. If the legal challenges win, the deal with QTS and Compass would be null and void.

On top of that, the county decreased the base value by 35 percent to reflect that the infrastructure to allow for data center development at the site is presently nonexistent and build-out may take up to a decade.

The county deducted another 10 percent, claiming it was applied to all data centers in the jurisdiction. This acknowledges the typical build-out period and the “high volume of land zoned/planned for data center development,” assuming additional development devalues existing sites.

But the deductions do not end there. Because much of the Digital Gateway has been designated “open space,” the county assessed that land at $0.06 per square foot or $2,600 per acre. Open space could be due to geological aspects of the land that prohibit development, or it could be at the discretion of the developers in their land use design needed to appease supervisors.

Although Ghadban stands to make the most out of the PW Digital Gateway acquisition as the largest property owner, the county designated her land as open space, resulting in a low assessment.

Finally, according to Lindner, Pageland homes are valued at just $100, because residences do not belong on industrial properties and developers intend to raze them.

“Any structures on these parcels will be razed to give way to data center development. The total value of the parcel is the commercial land value. A token $100 allocation of that amount was made to the building to recognize the existence of a structure on the property," Lindner wrote. 

At the last board of county supervisors meeting, Heritage Hunt residents questioned whether the formulas are fair and equitable, or in the best interest of county residents.

Then, new evidence came to light. Via a FIOA request, a resident obtained an email Mary Ann Ghadban sent to members of the Prince William Finance Office dated Feb. 22. In it, she requested that she and QTS’s attorney Anthony Calabrese meet with the finance department to ensure “fair and accurate assessments.”

“By discussing the nuances of the project together, I believe we can streamline the assessment process and potentially avoid appeals for both 2023 and 2024 assessments,” Ghadban wrote.

Gainesville Supervisor Bob Weir-R told Bristow Beat he disagrees with the tax methods; however, he has no purview over that department, except to make inquiries.

“Whether I agree or disagree is irrelevant...Do I necessarily agree with a 50 percent deduction? No. A 35 percent deduction on top of that? No. A ten percent on top of that because we devalued the data center properties because we have so many?" Weir said, in a phone interview. "No. Do I disagree with the methodology? Yeah.”

Weir questions if the discounts have been equitably provided across the county. Public information shows that a Bristow data center developer did not receive a reduced tax assessment despite legal challenges to that land designation.  

Weir wants the finance office to look at what is being defined as “open space,” since during the rezoning the data center developers would not guarantee where the open spaces would go. They argued multiple factors might require them to have to redesign the campuses.

The assessment information has only fueled the fire of the backlash against data centers near parks and homes. Wright argues in his email that the county has it backward. It should be giving tax adjustments to residents whose home values may be negatively affected by data centers, rather than the people selling to data center developers. Those individuals did not get any adjustments. However, Lindner said that property owners can reach out to the county if they feel their property was improperly evaluated. 

Bristow Beat reached out to Prince William County’s real estate assessment office, on Monday with follow-up questions, and is awaiting a reply. Bristow Beat reached out to Mary Ann Ghadban on Tuesday, and members of the Prince William Board of County supervisors in March.

Prince William Digital Gateway, tax assessments, Pageland Lane, Gainesville, Catharpin, Gainesville District, Prince William County, property taxes, Mary Ann Ghadban, Bill Wright,