Ascent Goes Downtown With New Chicago Data Center

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The Ascent CH2 data center in suburban Chicago. (Credit: Tara Wujcik).

The Ascent CH2 data center in suburban Chicago. (Credit: Tara Wujcik).

Ascent, which has built several large data centers in the suburban Chicago market, is going downtown. The developer confirmed this week that it will team with Sterling Bay Cos. to renovate a property on South Desplaines Street as its CH3 data center.

Ascent has built two data centers on property it owns in Northlake. The first was leased and eventually sold to Microsoft, which used the building as a “container colo” site for its modular design. The second, CH2, is a 250,000 square foot multi-tenant facility whose tenants include Comcast Corp. and a national retail chain.

The Desplaines site was purchased by Sterling Bay in December. An existing building on the property will be partially demolished. Ascent will retrofit the remaining structure for data center use, and build an addition from the ground up.

Focus on Flexible Design

The project will feature Ascent’s build-to-suit “Dynamic Data Center Suites,” which offer infrastructure that can be customized for customer requirements. Each customer in the multi-tenant facility can have its own entrance, security access and shipping and receiving area, as well as dedicated mechanical and power infrastructure. The approach provides Ascent with the flexibility to offer different suite designs within the same property. The site will support high-density installations and low-latency connectivity, a key requirement given Chicago’s concentration of financial trading operations.

“CH3 is incredibly flexible, unlike the standard multi-story data centers in Chicago, making it adaptable to new technology and server rack designs that some of the older constructions are unable to accommodate,” said Phil Horstmann, CEO of Ascent. “Downtown Chicago is an attractive location for data center space, but previously didn’t offer the options the market is now demanding. We’re talking with companies about their current data center needs and developing CH3 to meet those market demands.”

The project is the latest in a series of data center developments in downtown Chicago, where data center space has historically been in limited supply. Last year Server Farm Realty opened a data center building on S. Canal Street, and earlier this year Digital Realty Trust deployed new space at its facilities on South Federal Street. There are also reports that Equinix may participate in a proposed project at 111 Cermak Road,

Ascent says the CH3 project has full capital backing from its current equity partners, enabling fast-tracked development of the space.

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