A rendering of the future Norfolk Southern headquarters in Midtown Atlanta.
Squires said an additional 400 corporate employees will move to Atlanta when Norfolk Southern’s new $575 million headquarters opens in the third quarter of 2021. Norfolk Southern has more than 2,000 workers in Atlanta, and the relocation will increase that figure by 850.
Norfolk Southern formally announced its pick of Atlanta in December. Invest Atlanta, the city's development arm, that month approved $23.6 million in incentives for the new tower. State tax credits for newly created jobs will add millions more.
Gov. Brian Kemp and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took turns praising the city and state’s cooperation in making the relocation happen.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, left, and Gov. Brian Kemp laugh with Norfolk Southern Chairman and CEO Jim Squires on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, before a groundbreaking ceremony for the railroad giant’s new Midtown Atlanta headquarters.
The recruitment started a few years ago during the tenure of Gov. Nathan Deal when the city, state and developer CIM Group began discussing a plot of Norfolk Southern land in the Gulch, the weedy tangle of downtown parking lots and rail beds near Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
There, CIM plans to build an enormous mini-city of office towers, apartments, hotels and retail. The project could grow to $5 billion.
CIM wanted the land, and Norfolk Southern wanted to sell its holdings. Those talks later evolved into a headquarters recruitment.
But to consummate a deal, CIM wanted a historic and controversial public financing commitment to the Gulch deal of up to $1.9 billion, including decades of future sales and property taxes generated within the project site.
The City Council narrowly approved the financing package in November after months of intense debate, though a court proceeding needed to issue bonds for the project is being challenged.
“So much of what we’ve done in the past year has been about redeveloping our city,” Bottoms said after the ceremony. “When you bring corporate headquarters like Norfolk Southern to our city, we know they will bring c-suite jobs to the folks who will work in the mail room.”