Facebook will build an $800 million data center campus in De Kalb, Illinois west of Chicago, the company said today. The announcement signals that Facebook’s relentless expansion of its Internet infrastructure is not being slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facebook’s decision is also a vote of confidence for cloud growth in Illinois, which last year approved new tax incentives aimed at jump-starting data center development in the state.
The new data center will be built on a 505-acre property just south of Route 88, and site plans call for five data center buildings on the site, with the first two completed by 2022. Like all of the company’s recent projects, the Facebook DeKalb campus will be supported by renewable energy. It is expected to create about 100 full-time jobs.
Each of these cloud campuses features enough land to build at least three data centers, and sometimes as many as nine. Each data center is approximately 1,000 feet long, and includes multiple data halls, each of which houses tens of thousands of servers that process and store the status updates, photos and videos that are shared by Facebook users.
The Chicago data center market has been spread across two geographies, with a cluster of facilities in Downtown Chicago and a larger market in its western suburbs, with data centers spread across Elk Grove Village, Oak Brook, Itasca and other towns around O’Hare Airport.
De Kalb is about an hour west of Chicago in central Illinois, well past the Suburban Chicago cluster. It will be worth watching whether the Facebook project is an island of compute, or other data center projects target the area, effectively extending the Western boundaries of the Greater Chicago market.
Either way, it’s the latest in a series of new developments since Illinois passed new tax breaks. Data center projects now will receive exemptions from state and local sales taxes on data center equipment for 10 years if they invest a minimum of $250 million in the facility and create 20 high-paid full-time jobs. New development in low-income areas will also receive a 20% income tax break.
The new tax breaks address industry concerns that the lack of tax incentives left Chicago at a competitive disadvantage. Absorption has trended lighter over the past year, with slightly smaller deals than seen in years past.
Facebook continues to add capacity, even as the COVID-19 outbreak has caused delays at some of its construction sites. Earlier this month Facebook said that it would build a ninth data center on its massive campus in Prineville, Oregon, which will boost the total data center footprint at that campus to more than 3.6 million square feet.