MCKINLEY PARK — Stop the presses and start the server farming.
The shuttered Sun-Times printing plant will get new life, thanks to a Kansas development company's $18 million purchase of the massive building at 2800 S. Ashland Ave.
The deal closed on July 8, according to QTS, a rapidly expanding data warehousing and storage outfit based in Overland Park, Kan.
In a press release, CEO Chad Williams said the company's decision to expand to Chicago stems from high-demand from the city's financial, health care and technology industries. The company will provide a data center, cloud management and colocation services allowing outside companies to use server and storage space there.
Vacant since the fall of 2011, the Southwest Side building had drawn interest from other data companies, but those deals fell apart.
At one point, a high-powered group of Chicago investors was expected to pay $20 million for the building and pump $1 billion getting it into shape, a "notoriously difficult" effort because of the pricey upfront costs of installing gear like servers and cooling mechanisms, Crain's reported.
The sale to QTS was made possible when the city agreed last month to drop a previous tax increment financing agreement with the property owners. The TIF deal had required the facility to operate as a printing plant and employ up to 400 people.
QTS also has applied for a reduction in its property tax assessment, the Sun-Times reports.
The Sun-Times closed the 29-acre Southwest Side printing facility in July 2011 and axed some 400 jobs there, among other cutbacks, before selling the company to a new group of investors.
The Sun-Times is now printed at the Tribune's Freedom Center plant in West Town.
QTS plans to spend about $440 million over the next 10 years expanding the massive facility. When the expansion is complete, QTS will hire up to 80 people, the city said.
The acquisition by QTS is the company's second takeover of a big building in less than a month. Earlier in July, it bought a 194-acre facility in New Jersey.
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