Microsoft behind plan for data centers in Hoffman Estates

Microsoft has been named as the previously anonymous company behind a proposal to build a pair of 207,000-square-foot internet data centers in Hoffman Estates.

The 53-acre site on Lakewood Avenue north of the Bell Works Chicagoland "Metroburb" initially was billed as future home of the "Hoffman Technology Park," but its developers sold the land to Microsoft last summer.

"The data center will be a welcome addition," Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said Tuesday. "They're investing a ton of money."

Village officials said the data center is estimated to create 280 construction jobs over the course of the phased project, and 20 permanent jobs per building. The property's value is anticipated to be above $200 million when the data center is completed.

McLeod said the village has been in talks with Microsoft for about two years, a process that required the signing of a confidentiality agreement.

"The board and I have to go out to aggressively seek businesses to bring to Hoffman Estates," he said.

McLeod believes the completion of a full interchange at the I-90 tollway and Barrington Road contributed to Microsoft choosing the site, as did the cluster of new commercial buildings near the former AT&T corporate campus.

"Trends always change," McLeod said of the loss and replacement of the AT&T headquarters. "You have to be able to pivot."

Though many of the details of the data center project were revealed last fall, McLeod believes confirmation of Microsoft's involvement at this point makes a difference.

"It makes it real," he said. "Microsoft is a real company with real resources."

McLeod said Microsoft has committed to making the site attractive and the final look may be somewhat different from renderings made public in the fall.

Full details of the project are expected to be reviewed soon by Hoffman Estates' planning and zoning commission. But first, the village board is poised on Monday to recommend a Class 6B tax incentive to the Cook County Board and to allow the clearing of trees on the site.

The Class 6B incentive is intended as a way to make Cook County competitive with the nearby collar counties for commercial development. The incentive essentially cut a site's property tax assessment in half for 10 years, and then gradually increases it during the 11th and 12th years before returning to normal.

The village must also first formally terminate the development agreement it had with the Hoffman Technology Park that included the same initial tax break.

If approved, it would become Microsoft's second data center project in the Northwest suburbs. In early 2020, the company closed on a $52.2 million purchase of 36 acres in Elk Grove Village's new Elk Grove Technology Park.

Data center in, tech park out

A close-up rendering of one potential exterior option for Microsoft's proposed data center on Lakewood Boulevard in Hoffman Estates. The final design may be different. Courtesy of Hoffman Estates
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