Data center gets ground lease in Illinois Medical District

Move for urban infill comes amid tight market in niche with suburban focus

Metro Edge's Craig Huffman and a rendering of the data center (Metro Edge)
Metro Edge's Craig Huffman and a rendering of the data center (Metro Edge)

Metro Edge Development Partners plans to build and operate a data center on a nearly two-acre parcel in the Illinois Medical District.

The company has executed a 75-year ground lease on the property, and plans a five-story development with a total of about 191,000 square feet.

The center will be located at the intersection of 14th Street and Damen Avenue, about two miles south of the Loop. Construction is set to begin this year and be completed by early 2024, according to the firm’s website.

Metro Edge is fielding “numerous” pre-leasing requests, according to the announcement.

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The market in the Chicago area for data centers – facilities that house back-end IT systems, including mainframes, servers and databases, for businesses – is getting tight. Much of the available data center space across the suburbs is already spoken for and demand is staying high, according to a report from JLL covering the first half of 2022. Pricing is expected to spike in 2023 due to the limited options available but should normalize in 2024 with several campuses delivering, per JLL.

The Metro Edge data center’s location in the Illinois Medical District will allow the development’s anchor healthcare institutions that need to upgrade outdated data center infrastructure to do so, according to the firm. The district is home to more than 40 healthcare-related entities, anchored by Rush University Medical Center and the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, among others.

There’s more than 70 megawatts and 351,000 square feet of data center inventory planned and 28.3 megawatts and 141,000 square feet under construction. A megawatt is equivalent to one million watts or 1,000 kilowatts and is enough energy to power 400 to 900 homes a year.

The project from Metro Edge joins several other large data center projects already underway in Chicagoland, though that activity is in the suburbs. Facebook parent Meta announced in April that the tech firm would spend $1 billion to more than double the size of a data center in DeKalb to 2.4 million square feet. There’s also the 1.3 million-square-foot Digital Realty Campus in Franklin Park and the $2.5 billion, 1.7 million-square-foot Cloud HQ data center planned on the former United Airlines campus in Mount Prospect.

Read more

Data center developers face tougher competition in Chicagoland with warehousing rise
Mark Zuckerburg and the data center in the city of DeKalb (City of DeKalb, Getty)
Meta doubling data center to Illinois’ largest for $1B
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