Two weeks ago I was blessed to spend an entire week in Chicago (my hometown!), hosting/producing yet another bootcamp and on a non-stop schedule of meetings and data center tours around downtown. Although I had originally hoped to take a trip out to visit a few of the newer facilities that have popped up within the suburbs, the time I spent was exclusively spent DOWNTOWN. It simply became very clear after some research that I would have needed to extend my trip at least another week if I truly intended on touring the gambit of new options that have emerged a few miles away from the city… a trend that is now occurring in almost every major data center market around the world.

If you are interested in viewing a complete list of all data center options that actually have capacity available both downtown and within the greater Chicagoland area, click on the link below to access the Data Center Market Report we produced covering this region… and please don’t hesitate to share the link!

Luckily, I brought the California sun with me, which allowed me to both walk nearly everywhere I needed to go and experience everything I loved and missed about Chicago. I could write a short essay in fact on why I love Chicago (when the suns out and it’s not insanely cold)¬†but there is a lot to cover here about how truly awesome the options are for those seeking data center services downtown… so lets get to the topic at hand ūüôā

To start, it is important to note the volume of new¬†residential and commercial developments that have gone up over the recent years downtown, primarily South and Southwest of what’s knows as “the Loop”. There has been some explosive growth to this extent within Chicago on all accounts which includes net new data centers builds and expansion projects. Specifically, those facilities with significant space available worth mentioning are:

1. Altered Scale Р601 W. Polk (net new)

2. Coresite Р427 S. LaSalle St. (expansion)

3. Digital Capital Partners Р725 S. Wells St. (expansion)

4. Telx – 350 E. Cermak (expansion)

5. 2128 S. Calumet Ave. (net new… coming soon)

6. QTS Realty Trust – 2800 S. Ashland Ave (net new… coming soon)

Even if one excludes the massive new project at 2128 S. Calumet Ave. (directly across the street from 350 E. Cermak) and the mega data center QTS has planned for 2800 S. Ashland Ave, we’re looking at over 10MW of capacity directly downtown available TODAY for customers within buildings that are fiber rich and/or at very least only blocks away from the regional Peering and Internet Exchanges. This provides a healthy competitive landscape not much different than every other market in the US, especially when coupled with the explosive growth just out of town where the real estate prices are a fraction of what they are downtown.

Outside the absolutely stunning early morning jogs I took along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan (see pictures below), hands down the most memorable experience of my trip was touring through the guts of 350 E. Cermak with William (Bill) Larkin, Data Center Manager for Digital Realty.¬†Touring through 60 Hudson a few months back was impressive, but getting a personal tour through the juggernaut that is 350 Cermak was simply awesome.¬†Not getting lost when walking around the building is a feat in and of itself, let alone being responsible for managing, monitoring and maintaining the¬†@34 MegaWatts of critical load sustained at any given time, 80+ generators scattered inside and outside the building, 1.1 million sq. ft. spread across 9 stories, 8.5 million gallons of liquid brine (salt water solution) used to cool the building… the list goes on and on. I was also stunned to hear the utility rates Digital receives from ComEd due to the volume of power they consume. Though I can not disclose this publicly, let’s just say they are a fraction of what every other provider in the region must pay and one of the many reasons why there’s no question this building will be 99% full for a very long time.


THANK YOU Sarrah Prinzivalli and Shelly Greco from Coresite for pulling strings and allowing me to sneak onto a last minute tour with another group, and especially for roping in their Chief Facilities Engineer David Nolan to geek out on everything that made the building tick behind the scenes.

THANK YOU Doug Fulton from Telx for guiding my father and I on a last minute ad hoc tour of 600 S. Federal St. and Telx’s footprint within 350 E. Cermak after a LONG day of training.

THANK YOU Nick Gongorek from Steadfast for dialing in an impressive conference room to host the bootcamp and being such an awesome all around advocate and tour guide while I was in town.



Coresite’s 427 S. LaSalle St. across the street from the Chicago Board of Trade


Front entrance to Digital’s 350 E. Cermak St.


A MASSIVE tank of brine used to cool 350 Cermak


Couldn’t resist a photo opportunity with Soldier Field and the stunning Chicago skyline in the background


Old R.R. Donnelley Co. Corporate Library within 350 Cermak


DeltaForceIT Operatives hard at work


More Operatives at work


Classic view standing on a bridge over the Chicago River


Do not be fooled… this is the Chicago harbor, not Huntington Beach!


View from the river walk path I ran each morning to the lake shore.


Lake Point Tower… developed by my late great Grandfather William F. Hartnett


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