CloudHQ Breaks Ground on $2.5 Billion Chicago Data Center Campus
Executives from CloudHQ and ComEd joined local officials and union leadership at a groundbreaking for a new CloudHQ data center at a former United Airlines operations center in Mount Prospect, Illinois. (Photo: ComEd)
Developer CloudHQ has broken ground on a $2.5 billion data center campus in Mount Prospect, Illinois. The 1.5 million square foot campus marks CloudHQ’s entry into Suburban Chicago, a market the company’s team knows well from previous developments.
CloudHQ launched in 2017 with a focus on the Northern Virginia market, but in recent years has gone global with data center development projects in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Mexico and Brazil. The company was founded by Hossein Fateh, one of the industry’s master builders. As co-founder and CEO of DuPont Fabros Technology, Fateh built more than 260 megawatts of data center capacity for many of the leading players in the Internet sector.
That includes several large campuses in Elk Grove Village, a town adjacent to O’Hare Airport that became the focal point for data center growth in Suburban Chicago, where developers could plan larger projects than in Downtown Chicago. Those sites are now owned by Digital Realty, which acquired DuPont Fabros in 2018. As CloudHQ enters the market, it has found a 50-acre site in Mount Prospect, just north of Elk Grove, that was United Airlines headquarters and operations center but has been vacant since 2007.
“CloudHQ is excited to be bringing this hyperscale development to the Village of Mount Prospect,” said Keith Harney, COO of CloudHQ, at a groundbreaking event this week. “The location, scale and speed to market of our ORD Campus reinforces all we strive to achieve, as partners to our customers. The demand we see for this location is already extremely encouraging, and will be supported by a new dedicated on-site ComEd substation that will allow us to scale to power future customer demand.”
Another New Player in Suburban Chicago
Data center activity in Greater Chicago has surged since 2019, when the region’s competitive position got a boost as Illinois approved new tax incentives. ComEd says the Cloud HQ project is the 8th new data center development in its service area in the ComEd service territory across northern Illinois, which now houses more than 70 data centers, with six currently under construction, and another 13 in early design or planning stages.
“ComEd is thrilled to support the launch of one of the largest data centers ever seen in our state, as part of our ongoing work to power growth by Illinois companies who continue to bring jobs and investment into the communities we are proud to serve,” said Gil C. Quinones, CEO of ComEd. “Companies like CloudHQ continue to look to northern Illinois and our service territory thanks to the unparalleled access to clean, affordable and reliable power that is essential for meeting the demands of today’s economy.”
Other recent new market entrants in Suburban Chicago in recent months include Aligned in Northlake, and Skybox Data Centers and Prime Data Centers in Elk Grove Village, and NTT Global Data Centers Americas in Itasca.
The first phase of the CloudHQ project is set for completion in 2024, with an additional two buildings based on demand. The project is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs over a two-year period. Later phases of construction contemplate an additional 2,000 full time construction jobs. Once the project is completed, CloudHQ’s data campus will employ more than 100 full-time workers, including technical positions needed for data center maintenance and construction.
A new onsite substation will be constructed by ComEd to support CloudHQ operations and may eventually accommodate future needs in the area as well. Additionally, ComEd will install new 100MVA transformers at the site for the first time. These transformers are of a higher capacity technology to support the needs of the data center industry, while minimizing the footprint of electric equipment on site.
Making Good on a Prediction
Fateh has long embraced a vision for larger data centers, which is now being fully realized in .
“The largest deal of 2001 was 3.5 megawatts,” Fateh told DCF. “That same company leased 35 megawatts from us in 2016. The decimal place moved by a column. The next decimal place will move in 2022. Deals will be 350 megawatts.”
That prediction, which seemed mind-boggling in 2018, is now within reach. New campuses are now being provisioned for 250 megawatts and more in top markets. Cloud HQ is doing its part with projects like its new campus in Ashburn, which is under construction and planned for as much as 4 million square feet of data center space. The company has several existing campuses in Ashburn, and several more in Manassas in Prince William County.
CloudHQ has also acquired 98 acres ofland in Culpeper, Virginia where it plans to build up to 275 megawatts of data center capacity.