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Real Estate and Land Use

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Overview

From advising on the acquisition and sale of property to getting complex development projects off the ground, Connell Foley’s Real Estate and Land Use group provides clients with key counsel on nearly every facet of real property. Our award-winning team has extensive experience in 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. We have 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, multifaceted transportation, commercial office and retail projects, such as the Allied Junction Secaucus Connection Rail Station in New Jersey
  • Many residential developments of various sizes and densities

We have also represented 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
  • 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

We work extensively with our clients to secure key public financing through the New Jersey State Economic Development Authority. Through our strong relationships with public officials and state agencies, we have successfully obtained tens of millions of dollars in tax credits and grant monies to fund major commercial, residential and industrial projects.

In addition to representing real estate developers, we also provide legal counsel to clients with specialized real estate needs. Our team is a key resource for private investment funds, financial institutions and real estate investment trusts (REITs), particularly when transactions are substantially collateralized by real estate assets. We also counsel major public authorities, such as the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (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

 We take a hands-on approach to working with our clients, enabling us to rapidly identify potential challenges and opportunities throughout a project’s life cycle. We handle matters related to zoning, federal, state and local permitting and all manner of real estate regulatory requirements. We also navigate regulatory issues for projects governed by statutes pertaining to coastal protection, wetlands, the Pinelands, the Highlands Preservation Area and the New Jersey Meadowlands. In addition, we 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.

 Services include:

  •  Acquisition and Sales
  • Leasing
  • Land Use, Permitting, and Approvals
  • Development
  • Redevelopment
  • Solar
  • Financing
  • Investment Funds
  • Workouts, Restructures, and Foreclosures
  • Condemnation/Eminent Domain
  • Tax Appeals and Tax Matters
  • Condominiums

 Acquisition and Sales

We represent both buyers and sellers of real estate in connection with the acquisition and sale of complex real estate projects, including development of land for commercial, industrial, multifamily residential or mixed-use projects, solar farms, shopping centers, industrial and warehouse buildings, office buildings, apartments and residential subdivisions. Our lawyers are well-versed in structuring contribution (rollup) transactions, where real property is contributed on a tax-deferred basis for partnership or REIT interests.

Leasing

Our lawyers advise landlords and tenants in connection with complex leasing transactions. We have worked on ground leases for big box retail and industrial projects, shopping center leases and office and industrial leases. We also handle the gamut of lease-related issues that can arise, such as landlord consents, subordination, non-disturbance and attornment agreements (SNDAs), estoppels and commission agreements.

Land Use, Permitting and Approvals

We appear before boards and commissions on the federal, state, county and municipal levels in connection with obtaining permits and approvals for our clients’ projects. As we successfully guide clients through the complex regulatory process, we obtain the following:

  • Site plan and subdivision approvals before planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment
  • Use variance and bulk variance approvals
  • Amendments to municipal zoning ordinances and redevelopment plans (rezoning)
  • Permits and approvals from the NJDEP, including environmental, wetlands, storm water discharge, wastewater discharge, CAFRA, stream encroachment and sewer extension permits
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) approvals, county planning board approvals, soil conservation district approvals and approvals before the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission

Our lawyers frequently represent clients in zoning-related appeals, either before municipal governing bodies or by filing actions in lieu of prerogative writ, and in subsequent court appeals. In addition, we advise on specialized zoning and land use matters, including those involving constitutional issues, such as with houses of worship and the use of properties for religious purposes. 

Development

Our lawyers 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.

Redevelopment

Clients pursuing redevelopment projects engage us to handle issues such as obtaining approval of redevelopment plans, declarations of areas in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation, redeveloper designations and redevelopment agreements.

Solar

Our group has 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.

Financing

We represent both lenders and buyers in connection with complicated lending transactions, including project acquisition, construction loans and refinancing. We represent lenders in multiple lender transactions and negotiate intercreditor agreements.

Investment Funds

Our lawyers represent clients with respect to 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.

Workouts, Restructures and Foreclosures

We 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.

Condemnation/Eminent Domain

Our team represents 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.

Tax Appeals and Tax Matters

We 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.

Condominiums

Our lawyers 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, as well as advising clients on the acquisition of condominium projects.

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