Demand growing for data centers despite failed deal
By: Sandra Guy & Fran Spielman
Experts say a failed effort to convert a former Chicago Sun-Times printing plant into a center for housing Web-traffic hardware won’t hurt the city’s efforts to build more of the so-called data centers.
Investors who included executives at JDI Realty and Madison Dearborn Partners had reportedly paid $20 million for the 508,000-square-foot plant at 2800 S. Ashland Ave., which the Sun-Times shuttered two years ago. The investors planned a 10-year commitment of nearly $1 billion, including adding two new data centers at the site, according to an ordinance that the City Council passed on June 26. The ordinance would have let the property owners sell the site without repaying $7.5 million in city tax-increment financing that helped build it 14 years ago.
That’s because consumers’ and businesses’ demands for bandwidth-hungry video, big data, cloud computing and personalized media require enormous computer storage growth.
That’s where data centers come in. Data centers are cavernous, temperature-controlled, fortress-secure buildings that house the web servers, network services and storage equipment that companies need to transmit, store and back up data. They house the workhorses that undergird companies’ e-commerce, information technology services, financial and social transactions and other everyday functions.