Amtrak purchases office tower in Wilmington, boosting its already large Delaware presence


Karl Baker,

Delaware's economy grew more intertwined with Amtrak this month after the government-owned rail company purchased an eight-story Wilmington office building it plans to fill with 200 employees, according to a statement from the broker of the sale.  

Already more dependent on Delaware than other states, the company maintains two maintenance shops in New Castle County, where in recent years it has employed 470 people. The rail company also runs administrative operations out of the state, employing hundreds more along the Wilmington Riverfront and elsewhere. 

Its purchase of the Renaissance Centre on King Street from The Commonwealth Group buttresses the city's long struggling central business district during a time of extreme economic uncertainty. Other tenants in the building include the Delaware Supreme Court and the Delaware State Bar Association.

The purchase price was not disclosed. The deed for the property does not list the actual sale price, nor does it show that a real estate transfer tax was paid. As a Congressionally chartered entity, Amtrak generally does not pay such taxes.   

A spokeswoman for real estate broker, JLL, said a non-disclosure agreement was signed as part of the transaction. 

Beth Toll, spokeswoman for Amtrak, declined to state the sale price, but said the purchase "is part of Amtrak’s long-term strategy to reduce costs by having employees work out of owned property."

For years, Amtrak's expenses have been a target of criticism as the company regularly operates at a loss.   

In 2018, a federal watchdog stated in a report that Amtrak should reduce its number of train mechanics in Delaware, claiming it could save $3 million a year by cutting the "excess" staff. 

The purchase occurs as former Vice President Joe Biden, long one of Amtrak's most vocal supporters, runs for president as the presumptive Democratic nominee. For years, he commuted to Washington, D.C. by train from Wilmington at a station that now bears his name. 

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