Tuesday afternoon, at 650 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp joined business leaders as railroad shipping giant Norfolk Southern formally broke ground on their new corporate headquarters.

As Bottoms and Kemp battle for control over Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, it was clear both leaders wanted to display their joy for Norfolk Southern’s decision to return to their Atlanta roots.

“It’s a great day in Georgia when a Fortune 500 company returns home to its Atlanta roots and breaks ground on a beautiful new headquarters building in Midtown,” said Gov. Kemp. “Today’s celebration is a direct result of the hard work and commitment of many partners in the public and private sectors who supported this relocation project, including Gov. Nathan Deal.

“Georgia’s leading logistics infrastructure is among our greatest economic development assets, and this announcement is a testament to the critical role our logistics network plays in creating jobs and investment opportunities in every corner of our state. Norfolk Southern is an outstanding employer and civic partner, and I look forward to seeing them grow and prosper here in Georgia.”

Norfolk Southern tapped Atlanta-based Cousins Properties to oversee construction of the new headquarters complex. Located on more than three acres, adjacent to the North Avenue Marta Station and The Varsity, the two-tower glass building will have 750,000 square feet of office space.

A campus-style hub will connect the two towers, serving as a destination for employees to work and socialize throughout the day. Outside, a lush entry plaza will welcome employees, guests, and neighbors into the building’s main lobby, where they can enjoy soaring ceilings, beautiful views, and a bustling coffee shop open to the public.

The building’s cost is $575 million. Moreover, Norfolk Southern also recently sold its property at The Gulch in Downtown for $115 million to CIM Group, which plans to build a $5 billion mixed-use development on the site.

Norfolk Southern announced the decision to relocate their corporate headquarters to Atlanta in December. Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, that month approved $23.6 million in incentives for the new tower.

“Norfolk Southern is especially appreciative of support received from the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Invest Atlanta, who share our commitment to business growth that generates good-paying jobs and economic prosperity in Atlanta and across the state,” said CEO Jeff A. Squires. “In addition, Norfolk Southern thanks the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Central Atlanta Progress for their efforts in promoting our headquarters relocation.”

According to Norfolk Southern, the railroad company’s relocation will bring approximately 850 jobs to Atlanta with an average salary of $105,000 and generate an estimated economic impact of $811 million for the region.

As all parties expressed platitudes reiterating the reasons why the City of Atlanta and the state of Georgia are best for business, Kemp did not answer any questions upon the completion of the groundbreaking ceremony as it was clear he was not going to answer any airport-related questions.

“This is the relationship we hope to continue to have with the state,” Mayor Bottoms said about the Norfolk Southern deal. “And what I’ve said previously is that this conversation surrounding the airport is not helpful for this relationship. This [the deal] is what success looks like. It was great to join the governor today, and I trust we will be able to continue in the spirit of cooperation for a very long time.”

Squires was pressed regarding the airport squabble, but refrained from taking sides.

“As a member of the business community, we feel lucky to be in close proximity to one of the world’s great airports,” Squires exclaimed. “Atlanta is a world-class transportation hub. And as it so happens, through our predecessors, our roots in Atlanta are deep and go all the way back to the 1840s.”

The state has until midnight April 2nd to complete any deals before the end of the legislative session. Bottoms believes all airport takeover talk is dead.

“I would like to thank CEO Jim Squires and the entire Norfolk Southern team on their decision to make Atlanta their new home,” said Mayor Bottoms. “This relocation is not only a testament to Atlanta’s thriving, inclusive business community and talented workforce; it exemplifies the power of public-private sector teamwork in our city. We look forward to continued work with the Norfolk Southern team as they begin to transition to Atlanta.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Norfolk Southern CEO James A. Squires, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Colin Connolly president and CEO of Cousins Properties pose with shovels as Norfolk Southern broke ground on their new corporate headquarters Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Photo by Itoro N. Umontuen of The Atlanta Voice.

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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