Printers Row condo owners say humming noise from tech company Digital Realty is keeping them awake

CHICAGO (WLS) – Chicago apartment owners say they don’t have peace and quiet in their own homes – and they blame a tech company next door for the constant buzzing .

Residents said they could no longer open their own windows or get a proper night’s sleep.

“There was so much noise, I couldn’t sleep at night or even focus on my daily life,” said apartment owner Michael Gulik. “It’s like a mosquito in your ear all the time.”

“We turn on the TV often, even when we’re not watching it, just to drown out the noise,” added apartment owner Karen Zhou. “Sometimes my husband sleeps with headphones on, with music on so he can’t hear it. It’s really bad.”

Gulik and Zhou are two of many residents in the 280-unit Printers Row apartment building who say they hear noise all the time. It comes from a technology company, Digital Realty, which stores and computes huge amounts of data for companies.

Digital Realty has added more rooftop fans over the years to cool its servers. According to city records, their aboveground generators run servers and HVAC systems.

Gulik installed Plexiglas on his bedroom window, but he says it didn’t help much and cost him about $1,500. He said that the noise was constant and the lack of sleep was too much and he couldn’t stay in his own home anymore.

He started a petition asking the company to find a solution to the fuss that was signed by more than 100 people. Gulik even dedicated a YouTube channel to documenting his struggles.

“I talked to the management in my building, my HOA, the company, the street vendor,” he said. “I have contacted the Department of Health, the governor’s office and the mayor’s office, but to no avail.”

Both the apartment association and Digital Realty have conducted environmental studies in 2020, and both have concluded that they exceed the legal sound level.

“You don’t have to get used to a noise they’re making illegally,” Zhou said.

311 calls from residents urged the city to go out and measure the noise earlier this year.

The city’s Department of Public Health found Digital Realty’s ground-floor generator noise exceeded city regulations and fined Digital Realty $300. The company is also required to “comply immediately with ANY/all rule violations.”

“They’re a big company and I think they have enough money to keep doing this as long as they keep getting fined, they can just pay that amount,” Zhou said.

Digital Realty doesn’t want to talk on camera, but in a statement said it has been operating the data center for 20 years and has “undertaken numerous initiatives to ensure a high quality of life for its neighbours.” our population.” They “recently installed a 15-foot high acoustic wall, built to comply with landmark kit requirements while providing improved acoustics for neighboring residents.” The company added that it looks forward to continuing to work with neighbors and city officials to positively impact the communities around us. “

However, residents say that wall is not enough and city inspectors agree. I-Team noticed that Digital Reality recently sold tickets to fans on that rooftop and will have a hearing at the end of August.

Residents said they wanted the city to re-check rooftop noise levels. They are working with lawyers and say they will continue to struggle to find a solution. They say selling may not be an option, as they are also worried about the value of their home.

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