Meta doubling data center to Illinois’ largest for $1B

Project announced as two other big data centers are underway

Mark Zuckerburg and the data center in the city of DeKalb (City of DeKalb, Getty)
Mark Zuckerburg and the data center in the city of DeKalb (City of DeKalb, Getty)

Facebook parent Meta is doubling down on DeKalb.

The tech firm is spending $1 billion to more than double the size of a data center under construction in the college town west of Chicago to 2.4 million square feet, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The five-building complex in the home of Northern Illinois University is slated to open next year and create 200 jobs, providing both Facebook and Instagram content. It’s the Facebook parent’s 17th data center across the U.S.

“This is the physical backbone of all of our apps and services,” Meta spokesman Tom Parnell said, according to the Tribune.

The project comes as data center capacity expands across the Chicago region amid large swaths of existing supply being absorbed in just a few deals.

“We went from having a glut of inventory to extremely tight,” Andy Cvengros, a JLL data center broker, told The Real Deal earlier this year. “We’ve already topped our biggest year ever and it’s only April 1.”

Meta’s expansion makes the DeKalb facility one of the company’s largest data centers. It will dwarf the biggest in Illinois, the 1.3 million-square-foot Digital Realty campus in Franklin Park, according to Crain’s, which cited suburban Chicago data center broker i.s.a. It also surprasses the $2 billion, 1.7 million-square-foot Cloud HQ data center being planned in Mount Prospect on the former United Airlines campus, which will lease to other companies instead of being owner-occupied like Meta’s facility in DeKalb.

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Projects such as Cloud HQ and the Prime Data Center underway in Elk Grove won’t be able to offer leases until 2024 at the earliest and won’t hit their full capacities for eight to 10 years.

“Three months ago, there was roughly 60 megawatts of available turnkey capacity in the Chicagoland area amongst 10 data center providers,” said David Horowitz of T5 Data Centers. “You probably have four megawatts now.”

His company also operates an asset in Elk Grove Village, a hotspot for data centers where a local investor quadrupled a $39 million land investment in four years on deals that included a sale to Microsoft for a big data center.

Data center developers are facing tougher competition for land with the meteoric rise of industrial real estate prices, putting warehouse prospectors in the bidding range of data center investors.

Meta hasn’t disclosed the expected power consumption of its facility, its first data center in Illinois.

[Chicago Tribune] – Sam Lounsberry

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