Aligned Breaks Ground on Chicago Data Center Campus

Northlake data center campus. Rendering provided by Aligned

Aligned has broken ground on its latest hyperscale data center campus, in the Chicago area, the company has announced.

The ORD-01 campus, at 505 Northwest Avenue in Northlake, Ill., totals 18.5 acres and on completion will offer more than 100 MW of capacity. The first building, now getting under way, is a 520,000-square-foot, 48 MW facility that’s expandable to about 60 MW.

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In a prepared statement, Aligned CEO Andrew Schaap noted Chicago’s well-established status as a commercial hub, “whether by rail, road, air, or network packet,” as well its central location, tax incentives and access to ample renewable energy options.

The campus is at the convergence of more than 12 metro, long-haul and international fiber networks, offering customers extensive local and global connectivity options and will draw redundant, critical power from two on-site substations with 170 MW total capacity.

The facility will feature Aligned’s patented Delta3 cooling technology, which reportedly uses as much as 80 percent less energy and 85 percent less water than traditional cooling systems, which in turn lets customers incrementally scale in place up to 50 kW per rack without stranding capacity.

More money, more MW

With enterprise and hyperscale users anticipating an end to the pandemic, and given recent tax incentive programs, hyperscale activity in metropolitan Chicago is increasing, preleasing is up, and vacancy is likely to fall from its current 14.8 percent, according to a second-half 2020 data centers report from CBRE.

Net absorption in the second half of 2020 was 5.8 MW, and 33.7 MW was under construction, versus an inventory of 288.5 MW, the brokerage’s figures show.

In 2019, Illinois enacted a tax incentive for data center operators, whereby new projects totaling at least $250 million and creating 20 or more full-time jobs can receive exemptions on state and local sales taxes on equipment purchases for 10 years.

Last September, Aligned closed on a $1 billion, three-part credit facility that—unusually—was linked to sustainability metrics for renewable energy, among other goals.

In June 2020, the company began a major expansion of its master-planned data center campus in Ashburn, Va., which ultimately will total about 1 million square feet and 180 MW.

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