Wohlsen awarded contract for Amtrak’s $53 million overhaul of Wilmington building

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Amtrak recently selected Wohlsen Construction Company as the Unified Operations Center (UOC) Facility Project contractor in Wilmington.

“One of our primary goals for the Renaissance Centre building is to create a new Amtrak Unified Operations Center to serve our nationwide rail network, which will drive enhanced reliability, efficiency, safety, and customer service,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President, Service Delivery & Operations Gary Williams. “The new UOC is part of Amtrak’s transformation from legacy systems and practices to a modern, sustainable control center capable of supporting Amtrak’s long-term strategy to double ridership by 2040.”

Wohlsen Construction, based in Lancaster, PA, and with an office in northern Delaware, will partner with Amtrak to advance the build-out and construct workspaces, conference rooms, the operations center, the Tier-3 data center, video wall systems, mechanical and electrical system upgrades, and building-wide improvements at the Renaissance Centre, a release stated.

The project is good news for downtown Wilmington, which has seen the flight of jobs due to companies having more employees working remotely and major employers like Bank of America exiting center city.

The project has seen its share of controversy.

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The federally owned railroad’s inspector general had previously criticized Amtrak’s plans for the downtown building. The report claimed Amtrak paid too much for a downtown building that was not suited for the services to be housed at the site. (See story below).

Prior to Amtrak’s purchase, the Renaissance Center had been struggling with a low occupancy rate despite its location near the New Castle Courthouse Courthouse and a Market Street residential and commercial area experiencing its own renaissance.

The investment for the UOC is estimated at more than $53 million to build a 24/7 operations center to monitor and manage national operations and dispatch the mid-Atlantic Division, which handles all train movements in the Washington-Philadelphia-Harrisburg corridor.

Additionally, the UOC will house the national operations control center, which manages Amtrak’s fleet and onboard crew assignments and coordinates the company’s response to service disruptions. A new Tier-3 data center will also be created at this facility to support Amtrak’s operations to ensure system resiliency.

According to Amtrak, the acquisition of the 164,789-square-foot Renaissance Centre in downtown Wilmington will improve Amtrak operations and resiliency. The current location of Amtrak’s Consolidated National Operating Center and Wilmington Dispatching Office for the Southeast Division is next to a flood-prone Christina River. The evolution of climate change and several flooding incidents have only served to reinforce the urgency and necessity of relocation to protect these vital assets, the passenger railroad stated.

Cited as improvements

  • Faster detection and responsiveness to operating events
  • More effective customer communications during service disruptions
  • More efficient fleet and crew utilization
  • Improved rail traffic movement

Amtrak also plans to consolidate other functions into the building, including relocations of the Amtrak Police Department’s National Communications Center, the Amtrak Test Kitchen with associated offices, and moving Digital Technology personnel from temporary office space at the Wilmington Station.

The new Amtrak center is expected to be completed in 2027.

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