- News reports indicate railroad giant Norfolk Southern will relocate its headquarters to Atlanta from Norfolk, Virginia, as part of a real estate deal to boost downtown development.
- NS has been building up its presence in Atlanta over the past few years, and better air service from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the ability to attract employees in a large metro area could be playing a role in the decision, according to local real estate experts, FreightWaves reported.
- The company told the Virginia Pilot it was considering consolidating its headquarters into a single location but didn't specifically mention Atlanta.
Relocating its headquarters could help NS compete against a resurgent CSX Transportation, its main railroad rival in the East.
Moving to a city with a larger airport with more direct flights is often a factor in corporate relocations, relocation consultant John Boyd told FreightWaves.
Norfolk Southern has been located in Norfolk since the merger of the Norfolk & Western and the Southern Railway in 1982 and moved into its current headquarters building in 1988. Currently, about 500 Norfolk Southern employees work at two buildings in downtown Norfolk. Overall, NS has more than 4,000 employees in Virginia and operates 1,990 miles of track, according to a company fact sheet.
The railroad currently has nearly 2,000 people working in Atlanta's Midtown area now. NS has about 4,700 employees in Georgia and operates 1,700 miles of track, according to a company fact sheet.
Atlanta is one of several cities the company is said to be considering, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Relocation discussions in Atlanta are wrapped up with ongoing negotiations for NS to sell downtown land to developer CIM group for a proposed development of the industrial Gulch section of downtown.
Real estate watchers speculate that NS could build move into headquarters that would be part of the Gulch development. However, the long timetable for construction in the Gulch — at least seven years for a move-in ready building — may not coincide with the railroad's desire to move sooner than that, according to the AJC. The company has reportedly scouted other locations in metro Atlanta.