The data center boom has landed in Mount Prospect, where village officials helped break ground Tuesday on a $2.5 billion data center campus at the former site of United Airlines’ world headquarters.
The project is expected to provide millions of dollars in local tax revenue, a substantial boost in the property tax base, hundreds of jobs, and millions in donations for area park improvements.
With the spectacle of the past in the background — a onetime United Airlines building eaten away by ongoing demolition — Mount Prospect Mayor Paul Hoefert declared that the CloudHQ project makes his town “part of the worldwide data revolution.”
The CloudHQ campus is part of a growing trend of hyperscale data centers in Northern Illinois. Hyperscale data centers are the largest and most efficient type of data centers, typically housing hundreds of thousands of computer servers that support internet traffic for the digital economy, according to ComEd.
The plans call for the Washington, D.C.-based company to build three, 566,76-square-foot data centers, along with a new ComEd substation to power them. The first building is expected to be complete by 2024, with the remainder of the work finished by 2027.
Mount Prospect officials expect the assessed value of the campus to be $100 million, and project it will generate $1 million in electric utility taxes for the village.
Work to build the centers is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs for each building, and once complete, the campus is expected to employ 450 full-time engineers, security workers and maintenance personnel.
CloudHQ also has committed $2 million to the Mount Prospect Park District for the development of athletic fields at nearby Kopp Park.
Hoefert said that when the village annexed the property in 2017, he was hopeful United Airlines might repopulate its offices there.
“What could be better than having United Airlines, the third largest airlines in the world, have their world headquarters back in the village of Mount Prospect?”
He said he received an answer to that question when CloudHQ declared its intention to build three data center buildings.
“That’s what’s better,” he said.
ComEd will play a major role in the development of the technology campus.
“When CloudHQ came to us in 2020 and wanted to explore opportunities to revitalize this former United Airlines HQ site, we were thrilled to partner with them,” ComEd CEO Gil C. Quiniones said.
Besides a substantial amount of electricity. Quiniones said ComEd also will supply a host of technology grid upgrades, including the integration of a transformer.
“This is really the first of its kind that we’re installing in the Chicagoland area,” he added.
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jack Lavin said the $2.5 billion project will support the future of small, medium and large businesses that will require increasing amounts of data storage in the digital economy.
In 2018, he said, the chamber commissioned a study demonstrating the opportunity Illinois had to attract data centers. The Chicago market is now fourth in the world for data center growth, he added.
The campus also promises to be a boon to the building trades.
“These jobs will provide a fair wage and benefits for the families of the tradeswomen and men who will build and service this technology campus,” Michael Macellaio, president of Chicago & Cook County Building Trades Council.
The council has received a commitment that a labor agreement will be in place for the project.
“This means that the CloudHQ technology campus will be built by the most highly skilled and safety focused workforce in the world,” he said.