Data center in, technology park out in Hoffman Estates

A proposal for an internet data center has replaced the previously planned Hoffman Technology Park for a 53-acre site north of the developing Bell Works Chicagoland "Metroburb" in Hoffman Estates.

Though the petitioner for the data center - Syska Hennessy Group Inc. - has so far sought only an informal courtesy review by village officials, the company already has purchased the land from the would-be developers of the technology park.

"The tech park was still very alive, but then the data center user came along and offered a very good price to buy the full site," Hoffman Estates Director of Development Services Peter Gugliotta said. "The tech park developer decided it made more sense to sell rather than proceed with their original project. The tech park developer is currently looking for another site in the area because they still think it could be successful."

Andrew Krebs, project engineer for Syska Hennessy Group, explained to village board members last month that a data center is basically a physical hub for the internet containing the networking and telecommunications equipment one or more companies would need.

Krebs told the Daily Herald that the firm cannot yet disclose whether the data center it is designing is for one company or multiple ones.

But he described the location as ideal for its access to Interstate 90 and O'Hare International Airport, as well as for the area's power and water resources.

The racks of equipment that will store the data generate heat and need to be cooled through a system that uses water, and redundant power systems are required to ensure no cutoff of electricity occurs. The company is working with ComEd on securing an on-site substation.

ComEd also is doing a feasibility study of connecting to an existing electricity supply south of I-90 by either overhead or underground lines.

The final size of the two-building, 22-foot-tall facility is estimated at 400,000 square feet. It would be built in two phases and ultimately have 25 to 50 full-time employees.

The previously proposed technology park, in contrast, would have had three or four buildings totaling a maximum of 800,000 square feet that multiple companies would have used for manufacturing, service, warehousing, showrooms, offices and research and development.

The site lies north side of Lakewood Boulevard, 1,300 feet east of Barrington Road.

The data center is estimated to generate $2.9 million in municipal taxes and fees over 15 years and $1.1 million in state taxes during the same time period.

Construction costs are estimated at $450 million to $500 million, and that work would employ 600 to 800 people during the 18-month first phase.

As far as the exterior design, both a brighter and more muted color scheme were presented to village board members.

One immediately favored the more colorful one, four liked the muted version and two remained uncommitted.

"I'm not as solid on (option) 1 versus 2 in terms of colors," Trustee Gary Pilafas said. "What I'd like to see is the power lines buried because our whole north side of I-90 for the most part has power lines that are buried. I know it's a lot more expensive and more intricate. I get that."

Krebs said he doesn't know how long it will be before his company returns to the village board seeking formal approval for the data center.

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A close-up rendering of the more colorful exterior option for Syska Hennessy Group Inc.'s proposed data center on Lakewood Boulevard in Hoffman Estates. Courtesy of Hoffman Estates
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