Norfolk Southern Sues Buccini/Pollin Over Delaware Deal

Norfolk Southern Corp., the second-largest railroad in the eastern U.S., sued developer Buccini/Pollin Group Inc. contending it’s illegally using land to build a movie theater complex that’s a centerpiece of revitalization plans for Wilmington, Delaware.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based railroad alleges Buccini, Riverfront Development Corp. of Delaware, and Lititz, Pennsylvania-based Penn Cinema Management Co. are trespassing on land that was wrongly condemned by the Delaware Transportation Department in an action preempted by U.S. law.

“Norfolk Southern is now and has been the lawful owner” of the approximately 2 acres of land, and uses it as the only spot to interchange railcars “within 100 miles” of the city’s nearby Delaware River commercial port, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Wilmington.

The railroad operates on 21,000 miles of track in 22 eastern states, transporting raw materials and finished goods into the Midwest and Gulf Coast, according to the lawsuit and data compiled by Bloomberg News.

Wilmington contractors have already begun work on the new 14-screen, $20 million IMAX theater complex, to join a planned new hotel and existing convention center, minor-league baseball park and restaurant group along the Christina River near Interstate 95.

“We don’t have a comment at this time,” said Penn Ketchum, managing partner of Penn Cinema, in an e-mailed message.

Riverfront officials weren’t immediately available to comment on the lawsuit. A phone operator at Buccini in Wilmington said “no comment” and declined to give her name.

Norfolk Southern rose 2.6 percent to $73.69 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

The case is Norfolk Southern v. Riverfront Development Corp., 12-cv-872, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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