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Rail Giant Eyeing HQ Relocation To Gulch?

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A CSX coal train travels underneath CNN Center's parking deck in the Gulch in this 2013 photo

CIM Group may be on track to land the headquarters of a major railroad operator at the Gulch in Downtown Atlanta.

Norfolk, Virginia-based Norfolk Southern is eyeing moving its headquarters from its current home to Atlanta, and anchoring CIM's planned reinvention of the Gulch property, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. The paper does not cite any specific sources.

The revelation of the corporate identity comes weeks after the ABC revealed that a mystery Fortune 500 company was in talks to move its headquarters to the Gulch. Norfolk Southern ranks 248th in Fortune's 500 list, where it has held a spot for 24 years.

CIM is pursuing a package of incentives to redevelop property in Downtown Atlanta partly owned by the city, Norfolk Southern itself and another rail giant, CSX Corp. In turn, CIM would spend upward of $5B to create a mixed-use district, complete with a new elevated street grid, that could encompass more than 9M SF of office, 1M SF of retail, hotels and apartments.

These are metrics that are a near perfect fit for Amazon's wish list for its second headquarters project. That race is down to 20 regions, including Atlanta. It has been widely believed that the Gulch was being positioned for Amazon if the online retail giant announces the city as the winner, especially since CIM is seeking a combined total of more than $900M in city and state incentives for the development.

But there are strong connections already between Norfolk Southern — which was formed in 1982 through the merger of Atlanta-based Southern Railway and Norfolk & Western — and Atlanta that could indicate a headquarters relocation makes sense, the ABC reports.

Norfolk Southern has 4,700 employees based in Georgia, seven hundred more than in its current home state of Virginia. And former Cousins Properties Chairman and CEO Tom Bell is a board member of Norfolk Southern. Sources also told the ABC that Norfolk Southern has considered moving its headquarters to Atlanta in large part because of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.