Aligned is entering the Suburban Chicago market, and has broken ground on a 100-megawatt data center campus in Northlake, Ill., the company said today. The Chicago project continues the steady expansion of Aligned’s footprint, which now includes five markets in the U.S.

The Chicago data center market occupies a central place in America’s geography and mission-critical infrastructure. The Windy City is a major hub for Internet and financial infrastructure, with active communities of data center users and service providers. Many data center developers have expanded in the western suburbs surrounding O’Hare Airport, which has become a leading destination for hyperscale users.

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Aligned will build its ORD1 campus on an 18.5-acre property in Northlake, where it will knock down the existing structure and build a 520,000 square foot data centers with 48 megawatts of capacity, and the ability to expand to 60 MWs. The site has room for a second, two-story data center that will bring the campus to more than 100 MWs of power.

“Whether by rail, road, air, or network packet, Chicago has long served as a major infrastructure hub for the nation’s commerce and now, a rapidly transforming digital economy,” said Andrew Schaap, CEO of Aligned. “The city’s central location, attractive data center sales tax incentives, long-haul connectivity and access to ample renewable energy options make it an ideal site for hyperscalers, cloud companies, and multinational enterprises to deploy their mission-critical infrastructure.”

Aligned now operates data center campuses in DallasPhoenix, Salt Lake City, and Ashburn, Virginia. The company specializes in solving capacity management challenges through innovation in cooling and the supply chain. Each Aligned data hall includes a cooling wall featuring vertical stacks of its Delta Cube cooling units, which are about 4 feet wide and house multiple fan coils, allowing them to cool workloads of up to 50 kW per cabinet. The wall also contains space that allows for additional rows of Delta Cube units to be installed, providing additional capacity within the data hall.

The Aligned offering is positioned to appeal to technology-focused customers, especially growing Internet companies. “Clients really care about future-proofing,” said Schaap. “They want a provider they can grow with for 10 to 15 years.”

Infrastructure-Rich Location

That’s why Aligned enters new markets with large projects, and selects sites with the ability to add additional buildings. Northlake is just south of O’Hare Airport, and home to existing data centers for Microsoft and Digital Realty. The Aligned campus sits at the convergence of over 12 metro, long haul and international fiber networks, offering customers extensive connectivity options. and access to critical power from two substations with 170 MWs total capacity.

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“Northlake is well positioned in the Chicago market, being centrally located and having great infrastructure to support the new facility,” said Northlake Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin. “This will be Northlake’s third data center development. We work closely with developers to make their projects a reality. Their success is our success.”

Data center activity in Greater Chicago has surged since 2019, when the region’s competitive position got a boost as Illinois approved new tax incentives. That included a robust 49 megawatts of leasing in the fourth quarter of 2020, and 71 megawatts for the full year, third-best in the U.S. after Northern Virginia and Silicon Valley, according to real estate sources.

“Chicago has been a consistently strong market for the last 20 years,” said Schaap. “It’s a market we wanted to get into, and we’re delighted with the property. It has great power and communications infrastructure.”

Schaap said hyperscale customers are continuing to add space, even after a year of blockbuster growth in 2020 as demand for cloud services surged rapidly as users shifted activity online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen a pretty good continued growth story,” said Schaap, who said Aligned was already seeing interest about space at the Chicago property. “I’m bullish about the future.”