451 Research Reports: JRM Technology Set to Move Ahead at 121 East Cermak in Chicago

JRM Technology set to move ahead at 121 E. Cermak in Chicago

by Rick Kurtzbein


Downtown Chicago has been constrained regarding datacenter space for quite some time. Sizeable additions to the downtown market have been relatively non-existent. When T1R traveled to Chicago in August 2011 to research our North American Multi-Tenant Datacenter Supply: Top Markets – 2011 report, we found that the downtown market remained highly constrained, and we estimated that utilization of multi-tenant datacenters (MTDC) for 2011 at 91% for the overall Chicago market. Downtown Chicago can obviously benefit from additional capacity, and it appears that JRM Technology is set to move ahead with construction of its purpose-built, six-story, 334,000-gross-square-foot datacenter at 121 E. Cermak.

This is not the first time T1R has written about 121 E. Cermak. In April 2010, T1R raised the question of whether the property would be developed to alleviate the datacenter constraint that existed in downtown Chicago. We weren't so sure because industry sources indicated to T1R that funding for the build had not been secured, nor had any anchor tenant been landed. Well, not long ago T1R had the opportunity to speak with JRM Technology and learn that the company is currently in the permitting phase of the project and expects construction to begin mid-summer this year.

The high-level plan

The high-level project plan estimates that the building's hardened shell and core design will become available in Q4 2013. As customers lease datacenter space, the datacenter's raised floor space and mechanical and electrical areas will be built out incrementally. At full buildout, the datacenter will provide up to 40MW of critical load spread across 12 datacenter modules, each providing 12,000 operational square feet of raised-floor space.

The company can lease out an entire floor of 51,200 square feet or two floors of that same size. Each space will be provided redundant and diverse power handoffs on opposite sides of the building. Depending on customer power requirements, redundancy configuration and density there will be up to 29,000 square feet of raised-floor space available. The datacenter will also have 24-2500kW generator pads available and each floor will have 30,000 gallons of fuel on-site. The company will provide customers with the power and hardened shell. Customers are responsible for the buildout of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP).

The datacenter's design meets the requirements for an enterprise quality datacenter, which provides redundancy that supports the concurrent maintainability of electrical and mechanical systems. The building will feature multiple fiber carriers and provide dark fiber connectivity to 350 E. Cermak. The datacenter will also incorporate green technologies such as a reflective roof and vegetation, economizers and free-air cooling, recyclable building materials and Energy Star compliance with a goal of obtaining LEED Gold certification.

The project team

JRM Technology – Founded by James R. McHugh, JRM Technology owns the 121 E. Cermak property and serves as the lead developer of the project. As the building owner, JRM Technology is committed to developing a secured, reliable and maintainable datacenter environment. Throughout the design, JRM Technology has focused on providing redundancy that supports the concurrent maintainability of electrical and mechanical systems, as well as the quality of construction of the building shell and core. Overseeing all aspects of the development, JRM Technology provides a single source of communication to its tenant clients and within the community.

James McHugh Construction – Founded in 1897, James McHugh Construction has earned its reputation as a builder of landmark, one-of-a-kind structures. The company was founded in 1897 by James D. McHugh, an Irish bricklayer, and by the 1920s was established as a general contractor noted for its masonry work. As it grew with the city, McHugh developed its specialties: high-rise concrete construction and complex, large-scale projects for both the private and public sectors.

Environmental Systems Design, Mission Critical Facilities Group (MCF) – Founded in 1967, the MCF Group is a national datacenter consultant retained as the Prime Consultant and Project Engineer for the 121 E. Cermak project. As a key component to the design, the MCF Group has focused on industry design standards offering redundancy, maintainability, reliability and scalability throughout the design to support concurrent maintainability of mission critical systems.

ARCHIDEAS – Founded in 1992, the company is a full-service architectural, interior design and planning firm founded by Scott Hindsley, Michael Fazio, Joseph Pasquinelli and Jeffrey Miller. Their diversified portfolio includes office interiors, retail, industrial, sports and recreation, data and telecommunications, hospitality and residential commissions. As the project's architect, ARCHIDEAS will leverage its experience concerning technical programming and design talents throughout all phases of the project.

T1R take

T1R thinks that JRM Technology will move ahead with its project and enjoy success in downtown Chicago. It appears that the company's planned incremental buildout of the datacenter provided the solution to moving ahead with the project. The company owns a most valuable piece of real estate next to Digital Realty Trust's famous 350 E. Cermak datacenter, and T1R believes that downtown Chicago will embrace the additional capacity of datacenter space with its dark fiber connectivity to 350 E. Cermak. It should be noted, however, that T1R does not believe that the financial services industry will necessarily drive the majority of the demand for the additional capacity as in the past with its emphasis on low-latency, high-frequency trading platforms.

With the CME Group's relatively new financial trading hub in suburban Aurora, T1R believes some of the financial service providers are colocating high-frequency trading systems at CME's trading hub. T1R believes that much of the demand for the additional capacity at 121 E. Cermak will be driven from the large number of enterprise customers already located downtown that sorely need enterprise-quality datacenter space to expand their critical infrastructures. The customers already downtown will prefer to expand downtown close to their existing IT systems and offices. No IT staff located downtown wants to make the commute from downtown to west suburban Chicago to support their critical systems, especially during Chicago's infamous rush hour.