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Report: Norfolk Southern ‘100 percent’ relocating Fortune 500 HQ to Atlanta

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Downtown and Midtown both offer some appealing real estate for the railroad company

A pair of eight-story white classical buildings, conneced by a five-story bridge over the street.
The old Norfolk Southern Buildings site is undergoing a $70 million makeover.
Georgia Trust

If a Virginia newspaper’s unnamed sources are correct, railroad giant and Fortune 500 company Norfolk Southern plans to uproot its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia and move to Atlanta.

Citing “sources close to Norfolk Southern,” The Virginian-Pilot reports the company has “100 percent” picked Atlanta as its next home base.

Precisely where in Atlanta Norfolk Southern intends to land is unclear, although Atlanta-based developer Cousins Properties recently signed a contract to purchase a 4.1-acre Midtown site that some say would be perfect for the railroad company’s new digs.

Nevertheless, Norfolk Southern is also currently embroiled in the ever-complicated debate over how the City of Atlanta should incentivize Los Angeles-based developer CIM Group to redevelop the 40-acre downtown no-man’s land, the Gulch.

Norfolk Southern owns key land in the Gulch, where CIM Group has been buying property left and right, with plans to inject up to $5 billion in development.

The City of Atlanta is considering approving an incentives package for CIM Group that could yield the developer $1 billion or more in public funding for the project.

If that development agreement is approved by the Atlanta City Council—many councilmembers are wary of okaying the deal without a closer look by an independent party—Norfolk Southern would be more likely to unload its Gulch land to CIM Group.

The railroad company is rumored to also be weighing the option of choosing the Gulch as its next HQ site, although 1,900 of its employees already work in Midtown.

Despite the report that Atlanta has a company slotted by Forbes as No. 284 on the Fortune 500 list in the bag, Norfolk Southern is still involved in an incentives package back in northern Virginia, which, according to The Virginian-Pilot, requires its HQ to remain there at least until 2026.

Right now, the company employs about 500 at its HQ in downtown Norfolk.

Meanwhile, during an Atlanta City Council meeting today, councilmembers are expected to consider adopting legislation that would launch a third-party audit of the Gulch deal.