Real Estate & Land Use

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Overview

Real Estate and Land Use

Connell Foley’s Real Estate and Land Use practice group is widely recognized as a leader in the field. Our attorneys are frequently listed among the region’s top professionals by leading legal directories, including Chambers USA, Best Lawyers®, and SuperLawyers®. The group has a broad practice that addresses nearly every facet of real property, including acquisition and disposition, leasing, land use and development, financing, workouts and restructuring, tax abatements, real property tax appeals, and condemnation/eminent domain law.

A History of Signature Projects

The scope of our group’s work is the best demonstration of the broad nature of our practice. The group has represented developers in connection with subdivision, site plan, and related permits and approvals for projects of nearly every size and character, including some of the most prominent development projects in the region. These include major projects on the Hudson County waterfront; regional shopping malls such as Bridgewater Commons; golf courses and recreational facilities, including Liberty National Golf Club and The Prudential Center in downtown Newark; medical facilities, including Jersey City Medical Center; industrial projects, such as the worldwide communications facility for United Parcel Services; complex, multi-faceted transportation, commercial office, and retail projects, such as the Allied Junction Secaucus Connection Rail Station in New Jersey; and many residential developments of various sizes and densities.

The group also has represented both developers and lenders in connection with financing real estate development projects of various types and sizes, including residential, office, retail, hotels, shopping centers, entertainment facilities, and mixed-use facilities. These include the Marriott Hotel and Teachers Village projects in Newark; the Sheraton Hotel, an aquarium, ice rink, and baseball stadium in Atlantic City; and residential, office, and hotel projects in Jersey City, including Crystal Point, the Monaco Towers, Columbus Towers, Grove Point, Newport residential and office development, and the Westin and Marriott hotels.

Our Clients

Our group also provides legal counsel to clients with specialized real estate needs. For private investment funds, financial institutions, and real estate investment trusts (REITs), the group has served as a key resource for expertise in real estate and land use law, particularly when transactions are substantially collateralized by real estate assets. Connell Foley also counsels major public authorities, currently representing the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA). Our team has provided counsel to CRDA in connection with all aspects of development, permitting, construction, environmental remediation, loan transactions, and related matters, including land acquisitions by voluntary sale and purchase and by condemnation (eminent domain).

Comprehensive Services

Our group provides clients with advice in connection with land use and development laws and regulations that can identify challenges early in a project’s life cycle and offer solutions. We are experienced in issues related to zoning, federal, state, and local permitting, and all manner of real estate regulatory requirements. We have particular experience in navigating issues pertaining to highly regulated projects governed by specific statutes such as those pertaining to coastal protection, wetlands, the Pinelands, the Highlands Preservation Area, and the New Jersey Meadowlands. We also offer counsel in regard to governmental “takings” of real property in the context of inverse condemnation, having successfully litigated landmark cases in this area on behalf of property owners adversely impacted by government regulation. We counsel landlords and tenants in lease-up of mixed-use, multi-tenanted, stand-alone, and build-to-suit projects, as well as owners and lenders in connection with the acquisition and finance of complex real estate projects.

The Services we offer include the following:

Acquisition and Sales

Our lawyers represent both buyers and sellers of real estate in connection with the acquisition and sale of complex real estate projects. The projects we have recently worked on include land for development as commercial, industrial, multi-family residential or mixed-use projects, solar farms, shopping centers, industrial and warehouse buildings, office buildings, apartments, and residential subdivisions. Our lawyers have expertise in structuring contribution (rollup) transactions, where real property is contributed on a tax-deferred basis for partnership or REIT interests.

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Leasing

Our attorneys represent both landlords and tenants in connection with complex leasing transactions. We have recently worked on ground leases for big box retail and industrial projects, shopping center leases, as well as office and industrial leases. We also handle lease-related issues, such as landlord consents, subordination, non-disturbance and attornment agreements (SNDAs), estoppels, commission agreements, and other matters that are ancillary to our clients’ leasing needs.

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Land Use, Permitting, and Approvals

Our lawyers appear before boards and commissions on the Federal, state, county, and municipal level in connection with obtaining permits and approvals for our clients’ projects. We successfully navigate the multitude of regulatory schemes to meet our clients’ needs. Our services include obtaining site plan and subdivision approvals before planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment; obtaining use variance and bulk variance approvals; procuring amendments to municipal zoning ordinances and redevelopment plans (rezoning); obtaining permits and approvals from the NJDEP, including environmental, wetlands, stormwater discharge, wastewater discharge, CAFRA, stream encroachment, and sewer extension permits; obtaining Department of Transportation (DOT) approvals, county planning board approvals, soil conservation district approvals, and approvals before the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission; and other commissions. Our attorneys frequently represent clients in zoning-related appeals, either before municipal governing bodies or by filing actions in lieu of prerogative writ.

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Development

Our attorneys represent clients in connection with the structuring and finance of development projects, including advising clients regarding economic incentive programs, tax benefits, public-private partnerships, LEED certification, and green building.

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Redevelopment

Our lawyers are engaged by clients in connection with redevelopment projects, including obtaining declarations of areas in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation, redeveloper designations, redevelopment agreements, and obtaining approval of redevelopment plans.

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Solar

Our lawyers have significant experience working with both wholesale and net-metered solar projects. We advise clients in connection with site acquisition and development, solar leases, power purchase agreements (PPAs), interconnection agreements, construction agreements, wholesale market participation agreements, engineering and procurement contracts (EPCs), solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), and tax incentives of solar development. We work with both PJM and utility companies to ensure the success of our clients’ projects.

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Financing

Our lawyers represent both lenders and buyers in connection with complicated lending transactions, including project acquisition, construction loans, and refinancing. We also have significant experience representing lenders in multiple lender transactions and negotiating intercreditor agreements.

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Investment Funds

Our attorneys represent clients in connection with structuring and creating private investment funds, including joint ventures and private equity funds. We negotiate and draft all necessary fund documents, including operating agreements and Regulation D exempt private placement memoranda.

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Workouts, Restructures, and Foreclosures

Our attorneys are often called upon to assist both our lender and borrower clients in connection with loan workouts and restructuring, as well as foreclosures and deed in lieu transactions.

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Condemnation/Eminent Domain

Our lawyers represent both landowners and public entities in connection with condemnation and taking matters. We regularly handle eminent domain proceedings before courts and administrative bodies, and negotiate the settlement of takings matters.

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Tax Appeals and Tax Matters

Our lawyers handle real estate tax appeals for our clients before county tax boards as well as appellate courts, including the New Jersey Tax Court. We also assist our clients in obtaining tax abatements and exemptions.

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Condominiums

Our attorneys work closely with developers in connection with the formation and development of residential and commercial condominium projects. We also have significant experience in connection with condominium conversions, and advise clients on the acquisition of condominium projects.

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