Practice/Industry Group Overview
Duane Morris has an experienced international real estate practice, offering a full range of services related to acquisitions and dispositions; leasing; financing; hospitality; multi-family/healthcare, student and military housing; national condemnation; and REITs and capital markets. Our attorneys provide our clients—including property developers, lenders, investment managers and REITs—guided assistance through all phases of a transaction or project. We are able to handle a broad range of sophisticated and complex real estate transactions, leveraging our extensive skills and experience in virtually all types of real estate and development matters.
An integrated interdisciplinary approach to our clients’ needs is the cornerstone of our practice. Teams composed of attorneys across practice areas and the firm’s geographic scope—from our real estate, capital markets, finance, construction, tax and other practices—provide seamless, value-added representation. Our experience encompasses all areas of acquisition, disposition, leasing and lending, including new development, office, retail, residential, assisted-living and other healthcare facilities. In addition to handling the routine issues involved in real estate matters, we find creative solutions to complex and seemingly unsolvable dilemmas that require solid working relationships within the industry and a high level of understanding of the nuances of deals, regulations, profitability, leverage and liability protection.
The reputation of the Duane Morris Real Estate Practice Group is built on an understanding of the real estate industry and how real estate businesses function. Duane Morris is ranked by both Commercial Property Executive and Law360 as among the top real estate law firms headquartered in the United States. In addition, Duane Morris real estate attorneys include those who have been recognized in Chambers USA, hold the distinguished CRE professional designation from The Counselors of Real Estate, and are Accredited Professionals under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.
Our attorneys have a broad background in the real estate industry and have worked as registered architects, licensed mortgage brokers, certified public accountants, urban planners and licensed real estate agents. Several Duane Morris attorneys are members of, actively involved in, and hold leadership positions in Urban Land Institute, International Council of Shopping Centers, NAIOP, CRE Finance Council, International Association of Attorneys and Executives in Real Estate, Appraisal Institute, community development corporations, and various national and local professional associations and trade organizations.
Range of Services
Acquisitions, Dispositions and Financing
Duane Morris real estate attorneys have extensive experience structuring, negotiating and documenting acquisitions and dispositions, commercial loan transactions and other credit accommodations, with particular emphasis on construction and permanent financings and workouts, and commercial acquisitions and sales of the following:
- retail projects, including shopping centers and drug/convenience stores;
- hotels, along with their associated management and franchise agreements;
- mixed-use projects;
- office/warehouse/residential buildings;
- skilled-nursing, assisted-living and senior-housing facilities; and
- hospitals, dialysis clinics and community health centers.
In addition, we counsel financial institutions in connection with public and project finance transactions and matters involving commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) transactions; lenders and loan servicers in connection with litigation, condemnation, workouts, foreclosure, restructuring, reorganization, loan sale, receivership and commercial real estate matters; and owners/developers in the acquisition, financing, holding and disposition of commercial real estate.
Within the hospitality industry, Duane Morris represents hotel owners, operators and managers, as well as lenders and developers, in the financing, acquisition, leasing, development and regulation of luxury hotels and resorts, marinas, ultra-luxury condominiums, mixed-use projects, casinos, restaurants, convention centers and other entertainment venues throughout the United States and internationally. We also represent major tourist attractions, including zoos, marine parks and water parks. We handle all aspects of development, management and ownership of hospitality and tourism-related projects. Clients also turn to us for counsel on the formation and structuring of joint ventures and other vehicles for both developers and institutional investors in the hospitality and tourism industry. In particular, the innovative structures for mixed-use hospitality projects developed by our real estate attorneys have been utilized by others throughout the industry.
Multi-Family / Healthcare / Student and Military Housing
Duane Morris attorneys represent property owners, developers and lenders in connection with the financing, acquisition, development and construction of multi-family condominiums, apartment buildings, townhomes, planned communities and housing projects. We assist clients on matters related to site assemblage and acquisition, planning board and zoning board approvals, environmental issues and construction contracts.
In addition, our real estate attorneys counsel healthcare systems, providers and operators with negotiating the real estate matters inherent in the acquisition, leasing and sale of hospital facilities, acute care hospitals, ambulatory surgical facilities, laboratory properties, medical office buildings, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
Further demonstrating the wide scope of our real estate attorneys’ capabilities is our experience providing counsel to owners and managers of student housing in acquiring and financing student housing. This includes drafting and negotiating purchase and sale documents, joint venture agreements with institutional partners, co-invest documents and revolving lines of credit; obtaining new debt or assuming existing loans on all projects and ongoing legal issues in the ownership and management of the housing assets; and drafting all commercial leases for projects that contain a retail component. We also have assisted clients in matters that involved obtaining military housing.
National Eminent Domain
Duane Morris national condemnation lawyers regularly counsel private property owners, lenders, loan servicers, governmental entities, quasi-governmental entities, major oil companies, gasoline retailers, public utility companies, banks, dealerships and retailers in eminent domain and land valuation matters. Representative matters include, among others, pipeline acquisitions, redevelopment and infrastructure-related takings. With experience representing both condemnors and property owners in all phases of eminent domain proceedings, we have handled highly complex takings cases involving a wide range of property uses and projects.
Land Use and Development
Duane Morris attorneys represent a wide spectrum of land developers and property owners in multiple jurisdictions at the local, state and federal levels. Our land use attorneys are experienced in planning, zoning, subdivisions and use permits. In addition, we coordinate all the disciplines involved in land development, including federal and state environmental and coastal regulation, climate change, air quality, discharge permits, water quality, water supply, endangered species, critical habitats, vested rights, development agreements, exactions, affordable housing and redevelopment. Our commercial, residential and industrial projects range in size from master planned communities of thousands of acres to smaller, intensive urban infill development.
REITs / Capital Markets
Duane Morris represents institutional clients deploying capital across the country and around the world. Our Real Estate, Tax, ERISA and Capital Markets attorneys form a seamless interdisciplinary team to represent investment managers and traded/nontraded REITs in the acquisition, financing, management and disposition of office, multi-family, raw land, industrial, retail and hospitality assets. We help our clients structure, negotiate and close upon both direct investments and joint venture investments with operating partners to place equity or debt to work in core, value-add and opportunistic real property investments in ground-up or rehab projects in Greenfields, Brownfields and urban-infill; one-off and programmatic acquisitions, rehabs and financings; as well as investment through mezzanine, participating debt and other debt structures. We are sensitive to the regulatory needs of domestic and offshore investors, pension investors, college endowments, foundations and sovereign wealth funds. We advise on structuring investments made through commingled funds, separate accounts, public/non-publicly traded REITs, private REIT funds, domestically controlled REITs, C-blockers, TRS structures, income stripping vehicles, pension-controlled REITs, fractions rule partnerships and, where necessary, REOC or VCOC structures and other methods of addressing the ERISA prohibited transactions rules, including categorical and special exemptions. We are versed in addressing issues of concern to offshore investors, including ECI, FIRPTA and other tax investment and repatriation rules, whether through domestically-controlled REITs, C-blockers or the use of debt. We assist in identifying and mitigating the effects of bad REIT income, bad REIT assets, UBTI, dealer property and fractions rule violations. We are also experienced with UP-REIT and Down-REIT structures and the use of OP Units and other non-cash currencies to effect acquisitions.
Commercial and Retail Leasing
We advise both landlords and tenants on a broad array of commercial, industrial and retail leasing matters. Representative clients have included international staffing companies, a national provider of post-secondary degrees, owners of hospitality projects and private real estate companies. Our experience includes a variety of lease transactions, such as operating leases, ground leases, subleases, build-to-suit leases and sale-leaseback transactions.