Robert Khodadadian – Commercial Observer
A U.S. District Court judge began hearing arguments Monday in the railroad’s eminent domain case, in which it claims that it should be granted ownership of the leasing rights from the station’s management company, Union Station Invesco (USI).
The case pits Amtrak against Rexmark, which owns USI and thus oversees the retail portion of the iconic station, with Cushman & Wakefield handling things for the company on the office side.. Rexmark took over the leasing rights in 2022 via foreclosure and has been working to transform the station since.
Federal code states that Amtrak is allowed to acquire via eminent domain property that is “necessary for intercity rail passenger transportation.” The railroad asserts it needs the entire station to repair and reinforce a train tunnel that runs through it.
During the court proceedings Monday, presided over by Judge Amit P. Mehta, Amtrak chief executive Stephen Gardner testified that things needed to be done quickly. “Every day we wait, we are postponing the opportunity to improve the facility,” he said. “We are increasing project costs … and we are delaying the services and improvements necessary to give our customers the experience that they expect from us.”
However, attorneys for the other side argue that Amtrak’s authority to use eminent domain is not valid here, claiming the railroad carrier has yet to meet requirements under U.S. law to take over the entire railway station.
In April of 2022, Amtrak filed the eminent domain claim to take control of the station from Ashkenazy, which was facing financial trouble. Several months later, real estate investment manager Rexmark foreclosed on the leasehold interest after Ashkenazy defaulted on its loan. At the time, Amtrak offered $250 million in exchange for Ashkenazy’s leasehold interest
Michael Rebibo, founder and managing principal of Rexmark, noted in the case that if Amtrak is granted authority to take over Union Station, it would terminate all existing leases and undo the advancements in the past year to attract retail and food businesses to the station, which Rexmark has been negotiating since it took over Union Station Invesco.
“Growth is what we’re always looking for,” Barry told CO at the time. “Clearly, our current strategy is to lease up and provide a fantastic customer experience. We have some major overhauls and some improvements planned. It’s been a great place in the past and has been here a long time, and will continue to be an iconic asset.”
Amtrak is fighting to take over Washington, D.C.’s Union Station in its entirety. A U.S. District Court judge began hearing arguments Monday in the railroad’s eminent domain case, in which it claims that it should be granted ownership of the leasing rights from the station’s management company, Union Station Invesco (USI). The case pits Amtrak Read More
Robert Khodadadian has long had a simple philosophy about selling real estate. The way he sees it, there are approximately a million buildings in the city, and the broker that gets to sell any one among the multitude that will hit the auctioning block at a given moment is, sometimes, simply the person who happens to pitch their services to the right seller at the right time.
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