Real estate division connects largest intermodal in North America

Published Oct. 6, 2009

It’s a win-win situation, and the Louisville District helped make it happen.

The Army, city of Joliet, Ill., and private developer CenterPoint Properties, Inc., will all benefit from the sale of easements of approximately 115 acres of government-owned property near Chicago. This property will be used to form the largest intermodal railroad port in North America.

CenterPoint purchased 2,200 acres in Will County in 2003 and built its first intermodal—a transportation point where goods are transferred from train to truck, or truck to train, for shipment to national and international destinations. The venture has been so successful that CenterPoint decided there was room for more growth, so it decided to build a 3,600-acre intermodal in the same county.

But first, CenterPoint needed to purchase the easements—the right to use property owned by another party—for a road and railroad line that will connect the two facilities to each other and to other railroads in the area. CenterPoint will also build a road on the property to efficiently access the area.

The Army Reserve Command uses and controls the property—the Joliet Training Area (JTA)—where military personnel and civilian law enforcement conduct training exercises. CenterPoint approached JTA’s 88th Regional Support Command’s leadership who obtained necessary approvals and then contacted the Louisville District to handle the transaction.

The first district team to get involved was the real estate office, which acquires, manages, and disposes of property for the Department of the Army. In this case, district real estate office estimator for this purchase, Greg Carnes, needed to figure out how much the property was worth. Part of that calculation involved figuring out the land’s best use.

"We determine what the highest and best use of the land is," said Carnes. "It involves gathering a huge amount of data, to include an analysis for what surrounding land is used. By law, we have to get fair market value from whoever is going to use the land."

Other efforts, according to district Real Estate Military Branch Chief Bob Krupp, included intensive administrative and coordination efforts among several functional organizations that included appraisal and reviews, easement language and negotiations, escrow and trust agreements, Title 10 documentation, assignment and assumption agreements, legal reviews, and a final closing and signature ceremony.

"All that team work is paying off for the Army and the surrounding area," said Krupp who also acknowledged that the professional and dedicated service by the district’s Frank Schmitt (project officer) and Steve Allison (counsel) were instrumental in finalizing the action."

The Army Reserve plans to use funds from the $8.7 million sale to expand and improve JTA so that it is a more relevant training facility for today’s Army, as well as local, state and federal law enforcement groups. Specifically, most of the funds will be used to construct a state-of-the-art maintenance facility that will ensure the Army’s equipment is constantly ready for training and deployments.

The project will inject millions of dollars to the city of Joliet and the surrounding area over the lifetime of the easements’ use. The intermodal is also projected to produce more than 15,000 rail-related jobs that will increase and diversify the tax base.