Facebook to Build $800M Data Center in Metro Chicago

The company’s project in DeKalb, Ill., will rank among the world’s most energy- and water-efficient data centers.
Rendering of Facebook DeKalb Data Center. Image courtesy of Facebook

Citing access to renewable energy, a strong talent pool, higher education institutions, community partners and strong infrastructure, Facebook has chosen DeKalb, Ill., for its 12th data center in the U.S. The 907,000-square-foot facility will cost more than $800 million to develop and be fully run by renewable energy.

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Located on 505 acres in the ChicagoWest Business Center, the facility will be built near a new 1.6 million-square-foot Ferrara Candy distribution center. The Facebook DeKalb Data Center will be among the most advanced, energy- and water-efficient data center facilities in the world and is expected to be LEED Gold-certified when it is finished. In addition to being supported by 100 percent renewable energy, the facility will use 80 percent less water than the average data center.

The property can support up to five buildings and the first two facilities are set for completion in 2022. Those buildings will support an estimated 100 jobs. Hundreds of construction jobs will also be created and are expected to be at the site for several years. Facebook is partnering with the city of DeKalb, Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District and Krusinski Construction Co. to help design, build and provide infrastructure for the area, including nearly 3 miles of water lines and more than a mile of sewer extension and repaved local roads. Mortenson Construction was selected as the general contractor for the data center.

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said in a prepared statement the data center will be a boon to the community, and once online, the facility will be part of a network that connects people all over the world. He added that the ripple effect of Facebook’s decision will hopefully be a catalyst for more company expansions in the DeKalb region.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the announcement was made via a video that featured Peterson, Smith and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. The governor has made growing data center development a priority. In 2019, Illinois increased its data center capacity by more than 10 percent, building on the Chicago metro’s status as a top-five data center market in the U.S. That year, Illinois lawmakers approved a data center tax incentive on a bipartisan vote. Peterson said the social media giant had not applied for the incentive program, but Smith said in the video the company was getting a 50 percent property tax rate break over the next 20 years. He defended the tax incentive stating that over time the benefit eclipses what the government gets from other major companies.

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In April, Facebook temporarily suspended data center development in Huntsville, Ala., and in Clonee, Ireland. The company was constructing a $750 million facility in Alabama that is expected to be operating by the end of the year. In Ireland, the firm was planning to nearly double its existing two-year-old, 925,000-square-foot campus but construction was halted because of the coronavirus. In November 2019, Facebook leased more than 1.5 million square feet of office space across three buildings at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s Far West Site.