Florida firm acquires company planning Las Vegas to LA rail line

XpressWest, the high-speed rail proposal to link Las Vegas with Los Angeles via Victorville, California, has been acquired by a company that provides rail service in Florida.

Brightline, a privately owned and operated intercity passenger rail system serving Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, on Tuesday announced plans to take over the rights to XpressWest’s 185-mile federally approved rail corridor along Interstate 15. Brightline indicated it would begin building the $7 billion rail line next year with completion of a link between Victorville and Las Vegas by 2022.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The company has not explained the financing of the California-Nevada project, but Brightline appears well positioned to fund it.

Edens’ Fortress involved

Brightline is acquiring XpressWest from the Marnell Companies and appears to be following the strategy the company had when it began developing the train project in 2005 as DesertXpress.

Under the plan developed by Marnell Companies, a dual-track line free of grade crossings would be built between Las Vegas and Victorville. The company then planned to build a 60-mile link west between Victorville and Palmdale, California, where the line would meet with Southern California’s Metrolink commuter rail lines and the California High Speed Rail line that is under construction.

Eventually, the plan is to provide nonstop rail service between Las Vegas and downtown Los Angeles’ Union Station.

Brightline is backed by Wes Edens, co-founder and co-CEO of Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based private equity investment management firm acquired for $3.3 billion in late 2017 by SoftBank Group Corp.

Fortress bought the parent company of the Florida East Coast Railway for $3.5 billion in 2007 and has capitalized on real-estate transactions around areas where train stations are being built in South Florida.

The company has financed mixed-use projects at four station hubs totalling 4 million square feet in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando.

Tina Quigley, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and a member of the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority, said she is enthusiastic with the news about Brightline.

‘Absolutely huge’

“This is absolutely huge,” Quigley said by telephone.

“From the RTC’s perspective, any alternative mode of transportation we can offer is great for tourism and economic development,” she said.

Quigley said she had heard months ago that XpressWest was in talks with Brightline, but was surprised at how quickly the deal came together.

A spokesman for Brightline said Edens first met Marnell in 2011, building the relationship over time.

In a release issued Tuesday, Brightline indicated it would acquire 38 acres adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip to build an intermodal transportation station with access for taxis, buses, shuttles, and limousines. The company did not disclose the location of the planned station.

In a release from Brightline, Gov. Brian Sandoval said the company “will bring significant economic and environmental benefits to our state and support increased tourism.”

Approvals already completed

XpressWest secured several federal and local government approvals needed to build the project.

Representatives of Brightline have indicated they expect they could complete the project for less than the projected $7 billion estimated thanks to their prior experience and existing relationships with suppliers, including Sacramento, California-based Siemens USA for track and train sets.

XpressWest completed most of the legwork for permits to build across multiple government jurisdictions in California and Nevada between 2005 and 2016. Financing was always a sticking point for the company that tried to get a federal loan through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan program. Those efforts were thwarted by Republican congressional leaders Rep. Paul Ryan and former Sen. Jeff Sessions who said they were uncomfortable with the size of the loan and XpressWest’s ability to pay it back.

The company once had a joint-venture agreement with China Railway International to assist with financing, but cut ties with the company in 2016, stating that it failed to meet several performance deadlines.

Bucks’ co-owner

Edens, who formed the League of Legends FlyQuest team, also is co-owner of the National Basketball Association Milwaukee Bucks. When he and a partner acquired the team in 2014, he promised to keep the team in Wisconsin and build a new arena for it. The team’s 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum opened last month and was built by Mortenson Construction, the same company building the Las Vegas stadium for the Oakland Raiders.

In public appearances, Edens frequently said he was anxious to build rail systems between markets “too far to drive but too short to drive.” He talked about the prospect of building between Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, and between Dallas and Houston, but didn’t show an interest in XpressWest.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Nevada's solar industry on the rebound
In 2015, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of a new tariff structure that reduced net energy metering buyback rates and increased fix fees for residential solar customers.
Apartment complexes selling fast in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ apartment vacancy rate is among the smallest in the country, and rents are climbing faster than the national average. (LVRJ)
Aristocrat Opens $45M Campus In Summerlin
Aristocrat Technologies Chairman Ian Blackburne discusses the company's growth. (LVRJ)
Sunrise Hospital celebrates 60 years
Sunrise Hospital opened its doors to patients on Dec. 15, 1958. Employees of more than 35 years celebrated at a luncheon Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Jessie Bekker/ Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Maya Cinemas to open soon in North Las Vegas
Moctesuma Esparza, CEO of Maya Cinemas, talks about the newest location in North Las Vegas, set to open Jan. 10. The aim of the theatre chain is to serve latino-centric, underserved communities.
Holiday shopping and returns make this the busiest time of year for UPS
The UPS Las Vegas South facility is the company's busiest pre-load operation in the country, and it's even busier this time of year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times
The mall, attached to Primm Valley Resort, opened in 1998. Back then, it was a “textbook, perfect outlet-center location." But now, Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times. Las Vegas Boulevard has endless shopping spots. And there are other outlet malls that don’t require a hefty drive to the state line. Its mortgage-holder foreclosed on the mall in late September.
Miltary auction at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
Humvees, ammo cans, construction equipment, field gear and more is on the auction block Friday and Saturday at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. About 10,000 items in all are for sale in what GovPlanet bills as the largest auction of its kind.
Las Vegas residents discuss avoiding holiday scams
Las Vegas residents discuss their donation habits and how they avoid giving money to scam charities during the holiday season. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory ahead of economic impact expectations
The Tesla Gigafactory’s economic impact on Nevada has exceeded projections, bringing in more than 7,000 jobs. In 2014, Nevada agreed to give the automotive and energy company $1.3 billion in tax abatements. In return, Tesla promised to meet certain requirements in areas like employment and capital investment. As of June, Tesla has brought in a total of $6.05 billion in capital investment, surpassing the $4.95 billion projection. The original contract gave the company until 2024 to make $3.5 billion in capital investments in Nevada. Derek Armstrong, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Land sales near the Las Vegas Raiders stadium
Land around the Las Vegas stadium site has been selling for high prices. A few months before the stadium’s groundbreaking, Global Trust Group acquired a 2.5-acre parcel just north of the stadium site. The property sold for $7.25 million, or $2.9 million an acre. Osprey Real Estate Capital and Huntington Hotel Group acquired a 2-acre industrial site just west of the stadium site in late November. The property sold for $6.5 million, or $3.15 million per acre. That's roughly 12 times the average price of land in the valley this year as tracked by Colliers International.
T-Mobile Tech Experience Truck parks in Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena
The Tech Experience Truck is a state-of-the-art showroom on wheels, with demonstrations that put connected drones, smart cities, augmented/virtual reality and smart tracking. The exhibit shows new wireless technology – including 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents to keep them from teetering off into homelessness. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vrgas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Crowds camp out for Chick-fil-A opening
Dozens of customers camped out 24 hours ahead of the 6 a.m. Thursday opening of the new Chick-fil-A on Rainbow Blvd.
Cheapest listings for sale in Las Vegas
Listed for $39,990, 585 S. Royal Crest Circle, Unit #9 is one of the cheapest homes currently listed for sale in Las Vegas. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Terry Miller discusses Convention Center
Project Manager Terry Miller explains the phases of Convention Center construction.
Zappos treats their team members on Cyber Monday
Zappos rolls out a variety of food, drinks and special activities for all team members at their downtown Las Vegas headquarters for Cyber Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Team Hybrid at the 2019-Model Motor Trend International Auto Show
Among the companies showing off the 2019 model cars, Team Hybrid shows off its modified cars. Las Vegas resident David David talks about the team, which is in its ninth year exhibiting at the show, and his show car.
Black Friday Shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal
Black Friday shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfYe
Black Friday shopping in Las Vegas
Black Friday sale shopers express their shopping experience. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday at Fry's
Shoppers line up for deals early on Black Friday at Fry's Electronics on Las Vegas Boulevard South. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am on Nov. 23. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Black Friday - 1am Closing Time
Quiet night.
Black Friday - 12:30am - Best Buy Arroyo Crossing
Sam's Town Holiday Lighting Ceremony
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, Mystic Falls Park opened with its annual tree lighting ceremony, hosted by Boyd Gaming Executive Chairman Bill Boyd. The attraction features a Winter Wonderland theme and holiday-inspired laser light show, available daily Nov. 23 to Jan. 1. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What Is A Smart City?
George Karayannis, vice president of CityNow, Panasonic’s smart-city arm, explains. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Walmart uses virtual reality to train employees
Walmart Academy Facilitator demonstrates the VR training program being used by Walmart stores across the country.
With holidays around the corner, department stores hiring extra staff
J.C. Penny hired 72 seasonal workers this year at the Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson in order to handle the heavy traffic of the holiday shopping season. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like