The former State Line Generating Plant is getting a new, greener chance at life thanks to an Indianapolis attorney and New York City data center mogul. The Indiana NAP data center will include cutting-edge eco-friendly features that a Hammond official says reflect "the way of the future" for this type of development.
The long-term vision is ambitious: a 400,000 square-foot, $200 million data center, that would include a 1-megawatt alternative energy campus and a 4,000 square-foot greenhouse. It’s also slated to feature 10,000 square feet of tech incubator space, which was a big push for the project by Governor Eric Holcomb and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott.
The development is a project of Indiana NAP LLC, led by Indianapolis attorney Tom Dakich and longtime New York data center industry executive Peter Feldman. Dakich says he and Feldman learned about the site through the region’s unsuccessful bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. Since Indiana NAP identified the site, Dakich says Holcomb and McDermott have “rolled out the red carpet,” more so than in other communities.
“In Illinois, the mayor’s office and the governor’s office, all they want to do is argue with us, so there’s no spirit of collaboration over there,” says Dakich. “In Indiana, the mayor and the governor could not be any better.”
Hammond Executive Director of Planning and Development Africa Tarver says the process has been “completely collaborative” from the beginning. She says finding a new, green, high-tech use for the former State Line Generating Plant is important for the city’s economy and image.
“It’s always important for you to be able to show and to prove that your community is always forward-thinking,” says Tarver, “always looking at how it can brand itself to be bigger and better; not just cutting-edge, but just truly to say, we’re doing something that’s looking toward the future and the sustainability of our community.”
Among the planned sustainable aspects of the development are solar panels and wind turbines that could help cut energy costs. Developers are also working with Purdue University Northwest to teach classes in the greenhouse.
Dakich says the plan is to open the data center on July 1, 2019 with 100,000 square feet. If the project is a success, which he says he anticipates, developers plan to grow to 400,000 square feet within five years. With the anticipated $200 million price tag, Dakich says they will be investing an average of $800,000 per week in the project.
Dakich says, to his knowledge, this will be the first data center in the United States with a greenhouse attached to it.
“We’ve been scratching our heads on why the heck we didn’t think of this before,” said Dakich during his interview with Inside INdiana Business.
“That speaks to the strength of collaboration,” responded Tarver.
“Either that,” laughed Dakich, “or the fact that Pete and I are idiots.”
Tarver says the project will lead people and businesses to give Hammond “a second look.”
Dakich talks about the growth potential of the center.
Dakich says Indiana tops Illinois when it comes to public support for this type of project.