Land use/zoning in United States
Akerman LLP has an impressive national practice and is particularly noted for its ‘fantastic Florida presence’ The team has recently advised on multiple urban redevelopment projects, an example of which included assisting the Faena Group with the construction loan closing, project approvals, environmental matters, and real estate acquisitions in relation to its $700m Rem Koolhaas-designed multipurpose project on Collins Avenue in Miami, led by Miami managing partner Neisen Kasdin. In addition, Kasdin acts as land use and zoning counsel to the Magic City Special Area Plan, a proposed mixed-use tech and innovation district of over 7 million square feet on 17.8 acres in Miami’s Little Haiti District. Also recommended in Miami is Spencer Crowley. In Orlando, land use and development practice chair Cecelia Bonifay advised FedEx Ground on the due diligence and acquisition of a 150-acre site in Ocala to house a ground hub. In Chicago, another of the practice’s strongholds, Jack George acted for Riverside Investment and Development in the $1bn redevelopment of Chicago’s historic Union Station.
Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP considerably boosted its practice with the arrival of three seasoned real estate and land use lawyers from Morrison & Foerster LLP in July 2018: David Gold, Miles Imwalle and Megan Jennings. The 35-strong team works on high-profile commercial, mixed-use, health, renewable energy, residential, and sports development projects, mostly in its home base, San Francisco. Harry O’Brien and Tay Via lead a team that is acting as lead counsel to Seawall Lot 337 Associates, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, in the $1.6bn billion Mission Rock project adjacent to Oracle Park; Mission Rock is a 28-acre project that will include offices, manufacturing services, R&D facilities, restaurants, retail and entertainment venues, and structured parking, as well as approximately 8 acres of outdoor spaces for public events. The highly respected Pamela Duffy is acting for Murphy's Bowl, the development entity for the LA Clippers basketball franchise, in both real estate land assembly and project approvals for its proposed new $1bn 18,000-20,000 seat state-of-the-art basketball arena and associated community facilities in Inglewood. In other work, Duffy and Via continue to advise Sutter-affiliated California Pacific Medical Center on its $2.7bn Long Range Development Plan, which includes two new hospitals and three new medical buildings across CPMC's five-campus system. Matt Bove chairs the real estate practice group.
‘Best in class from strategy to legal analysis’, DLA Piper LLP (US) is instructed by real estate developers, investors, technology companies and professional sports teams. In northern Virginia, the team was strengthened by the arrival of Antonio Calabrese from Cooley LLP; he provides ongoing advice to Macerich on the development of Tysons Corner Metro Station, and is also advising Mitre on a 1 million square foot expansion of its campus. In Chicago, chair of the land use, development and government relations practice Theodore Novak, along with Paul Shadle (‘very responsive and helpful in complex real estate matters’), and Mariah DiGrino advised Farpoint Development on multiple land use, zoning and development matters, including GRIT, a vacant 90-acre site owned by the City of Chicago awaiting the development of a high-end mixed-use project, as well as the rehabilitation and renovation of the historic Uptown Theatre, to be re-opened as a 5,800-capacity entertainment venue. Moreover, Novak, DiGrino and Richard Klawiter, vice-chair of the real estate practice, advised 601W Companies on the $500m renovation and rehabilitation of the 2.5 million square foot Old Main Chicago Post Office. Names to note in Los Angeles include Jerold Neuman, Kyndra Joy Casper, and senior associate Andrew Brady, and John Rattigan acts as managing partner of the Boston office.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is considered the ‘gold standard’ for land use and zoning work in New York City. The 12-strong team works on high-profile mandates, which have included assisting Google with the zoning due diligence in relation to its $2.4bn acquisition of Chelsea Market from Jamestown Properties, and also advising on ongoing land use with regard to the potential expansion of the property. The team also advised JPMorgan Chase on various aspects of the planned redevelopment of its headquarters on Park Avenue - the first major project to be carried out under the Greater East Midtown Rezoning Plan, passed in 2017. In addition, the team continues to act as counsel to Related Companies in relation to numerous zoning aspects concerning the development of Hudson Yards; with the firm's assistance, the client was able to create a complex underlying legal architecture allowing for the establishment of multiple business sites with separate financings. Melanie Meyers is a key figure in the practice group, as is Carol Rosenthal, who ‘intimately understands the complexities of zoning in a way that is grounded in both historical context and palatable ways to set new precedent’. ‘True star’ Zachary Bernstein stands out for his ‘willingness to be clear that there aren't always simple clear answers and that some goals require a more subjective path’; he co-led the JPMorgan Chase mandate with David Karnovsky, another key practitioner. Special counsel Wesley O’Brien and associate Nicholas Williams are also recommended.
‘Strong and sophisticated’, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s California-based land use and zoning practice is renowned for its work in large-scale projects, with particular expertise in sporting facilities. The practice group acted as lead counsel to the Oakland A’s Major League Baseball team in the $1bn development of a new stadium and an ancillary development including retail, hotel, and residential opportunities; this mandate involved simultaneous land use and zoning analyses of two potential sites: the stadium's current location, Coliseum City, and Howard Terminal, slightly farther up the San Francisco Bay. Co-chair of the land use and development group, Mary Murphy leads the case. In a similar mandate, practice co-chair Amy Forbes, with support from ‘bright’ Douglas Champion, is advising advise The Kroenke Group on the development of the multi-billion dollar sports and entertainment complex on 300 acres in the City of Inglewood. Forbes was also instructed by CBS in a mandate that began with the client’s intention to sell its 25-acre Television City in Los Angeles, a decision which was met with concern from several community groups, who filed for historic preservation protection for the entire complex, and which ended with the client signing an agreement with Los Angeles Conservancy allowing for the preservation of the original parts of the complex.
Holland & Knight LLP’s nationwide practice covers keys markets, including Florida, California, New York, Chicago and Washington DC. The ‘invaluable’ practice sets itself apart with its ‘wealth of experience and depth of knowledge’; the lawyers are ‘intuitive’, ‘clear’, ’responsive and articulate and they present very well to residents and elected officials’. In Chicago, ‘problem solver’ Peter Friedman was retained by Elion Partners in relation to the zoning, real estate financing, and tax-increment financing issues related to the RidgePort Logistics Center, in Wilmington. Friedman, who leads the Chicago real estate and local government group, ‘brings many years of front line experience, has a quick legal mind, and carries a huge amount of respect’. National land use and government practice chair Steven Elrod is ‘an exemplary attorney; he treats each client as if they are the only one, and he is extremely responsive to elected officials’. In Florida, Joseph Goldstein, Miami real estate and land use practice leader, is advising Baptist Health on several matters, including obtaining government zoning and land use approvals for five free-standing urgent care centres in South Florida, and governmental approvals for a master plan modification to the Baptist Hospital main campus. In San Francisco, West Coast land use practice head Jennifer Hernandez advised Tejon Ranch on a conservation and land use development agreement with several environmental groups concerning three large master-planned communities on the 240,000-acre property. Also recommended is Norman Glasgow, who leads the Washington DC and Northern Virginia land use and zoning group, and is advising Carr Properties on the land use matters relating to the new Fannie Mae headquarters located in downtown Washington DC.
A ‘premier’ firm for land use and zoning matters in New York, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP advises an enviable list of clients on landmark projects, including residential super towers and historical site conversions. Recent highlights included assisting Atlas Capital Group and Westbrook Partners with the creation of a new zoning mechanism allowing the transfer of development rights from Pier 40 in New York City’s Hudson River Park for use in the redevelopment of the St. John’s Warehouse site. Further, the team advised Douglaston Development on the second transfer of development rights from the Hudson River Park relating to a 62-story, 752,000 square foot residential tower project. The land use department is jointly led by Michael Sillerman and Paul Selver, the latter of whom is acting for Extell Development Company in numerous ongoing land use and zoning matters. Elise Wagner advised The Gotham Organization on the land use issues associated with the rezoning of a site on the Lower East Side, which includes a synagogue designated a New York City landmark. Gary Tarnoff and Valerie Campbell are advising The Frick Collection on a proposed addition to the museum. In addition, the team acted for Plaxall in the rezoning of a 15-acre site on the waterfront at Anable Basin in Long Island City, Queens; Amazon had aimed to develop its headquarters on this site, but backed out in the face of local opposition. James Power is also a key contact.
Latham & Watkins LLP has expertise across the gamut of zoning mandates, with particular strengths in California and the Western states. The firm often combines its land use and zoning expertise with its environmental know-how, an recent example of which included advising Newhall Land & Farming on the development of Newhall Ranch, the first climate neutral city proposed in southern California; the firm's work in this matter focused on designing a greenhouse gas emissions strategy, and negotiating a settlement with a federally recognized American Indian tribe concerning certain permits. In Los Angeles, the firm is instructed by Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies in relation to its proposed $150m aerial gondola system for Dodger Stadium, which will be initiated through a mobility partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Further, the practice group is acting for the California American Water Company in relation to the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project. Chair of the environment, land and resources department James L. Arnone, co-head of the project siting and approvals practice Lucinda Starrett, and George Mihlsten are ‘heavyweight’ attorneys in Los Angeles. In Washington DC, the 'outstanding’ Janice M. Schneider acts as vice-chair of the environment, land and resources practice, and is ‘very familiar with how government works and how to approach issues in a manner to get support from officials’. Also recommended is San Diego-based Christopher Garrett, who co-heads the project siting and approvals department.
‘Strong and sophisticated’, Perkins Coie LLP is especially active on the West Coast, advising on permitting and approvals, environmental analyses and clearances, resource protection, ballot box land use planning, conditions of approval, complex financing mechanisms, and all legislative changes affecting project developments. San Francisco-based Cecily Barclay heads the firm-wide real estate and land use practice, while Seth King in Portland has expertise in obtaining permit and entitlement approvals for major development projects.
Noted in particular for its work in Philadelphia and Baltimore, Ballard Spahr LLP assists clients with permits and approvals for real estate development projects, including environmental permitting and historical preservation issues. Of note, the team provides ongoing advice to the Philadelphia Phillies regarding modifications made to Citizens Bank Park, which recently included an interactive baseball-featured entertainment center and a hardened security perimeter intended to protect from potential terrorist attacks. Additionally, Philadelphia-based practice head Matthew McClure acted for Nature Lands in obtaining land use approvals for 1,500 acres of preservation and conservation areas in Pennsylvania, and successfully defended the client in opposing litigation. In Philadelphia the firm is acting for Southern Land in its $300m development of a mixed-use high-rise project on a one-acre site on Rittenhouse Square. In Salt Lake City, Thomas Bennett is assisting SRDV with the development of the St. Regis Deer Valley Hotel at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
New York-based Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP fields a planning and zoning team comprising legal experts, urban planners and a registered architect. The multidisciplinary team regularly handles municipal and state approvals related to zoning, construction, building codes, historic preservation and related issues, and also has experience of related litigation. Of recent note, the practice group advised F&T Group and Rockefeller Group Development on the land use approvals for the Flushing Commons project, which involves the redevelopment of a municipal parking lot into an approximately 1.2 million square foot multi-building complex, with a 1.5 acre publicly-accessible open space and a 1600-space below-grade public parking garage. Additionally, the team advised New York University on the development of a master plan and land use approvals for the long-term city-wide expansion of the client’s campus, and also advised Silverstein Properties on all land use and zoning aspects of the development of a large site in Hudson Yards, which will ultimately contain two buildings with approximately 1.8 million square feet of residential and commercial uses. Judith Gallent heads the practice, and James Colgate, a lawyer and an architect, is also recommended.
California-based Cox, Castle & Nicholson is ‘truly plugged in with the public land use process, offering clients a limb-by-limb description of the process to help navigate, manage expectations and timing, and assess risks’. The team covers the full range of land use and zoning matters, including those involving environmental aspects. Recently highlights included assisting Oak Knoll Acquisition Ventures with the redevelopment of the Oak Knoll project, one of the largest privately-owned vacant properties in the City of Oakland. The team also acts as lead counsel to all the major urban water agencies with operations on the Upper Santa Ana River in relation to the preparation of a habitat conservation plan. Based in San Francisco, Anne Mudge and Michael Zischke jointly lead the land use and natural resources practice.
The lawyers at Goodwin are ‘reliable, thorough, calm and composed, and highly professional’. A fixture in the Massachusetts market, the practice group advises across the spectrum of complex land use and zoning mandates, including site acquisition and due diligence, zoning and subdivision control, environmental permitting, historic preservation, cost recovery and liability management, as well as a litany of related corporate deals. In particular, the firm has a track record of working on landmark projects in Boston, an example of which involved acting for Boston Properties in a joint venture with Delaware North for the development, permitting and leasing of an air rights parcel comprising a portion of The Hub on Causeway, including permitting for the third tower. The team has also been acting for Meredith Management in the development of the Fenway Center, a multi-building mixed-use project. A key figure in the team is practice head Martin Healy, ‘an outstanding leader’, who is ‘responsive, personable and able to quickly focus on the important issues and articulate his advice practically and without legal jargon’. Also recommended is of counsel Lawrence Kaplan, who is assisting longstanding client New Balance with several matters, including its multi-phased, mixed-use redevelopment of a 22-acre campus in Brighton. Other lawyers of note are counsel Robert Fitzgerald and senior associate Jennifer Schultz. All named practitioners are based in Boston.
Particularly active in New York and Florida, Greenberg Traurig, LLP is instructed by landowners, joint venture partners, and entrepreneurs in every phase of real estate projects, and also advises property owners on all the regulatory issues affecting the use of properties, a role involving close collaboration with the firm’s government law and policy teams. The team has experience of a wide variety of projects, including health, retail, hospitality, leisure, entertainment, and coastal projects. In late 2018 the firm was instructed by Amazon to manage the aftermath of the aborted roll-out of its HQ2 project in Queens, following fervent local opposition. Key contacts are land use practice chair Jay A Segal and Nick Hockens in New York, Ryan Bailine in Miami, and Ellen Berkowitz in Los Angeles.
The practice group at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP handles land use and zoning matters in California, carrying out industrial, energy, leisure, entertainment, mixed-use, residential, educational and logistics projects, and also handling environmental and transactional matters and related disputes. Highlight work included assisting Poseidon Water with obtaining approval from the California Coastal Commission to develop a large $1bn seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach; that matter is being led by Orange Country-based practice co-chair Susan Hori. Los Angeles-based Victor De la Cruz, the other practice co-chair, successfully represented Athens Services with the entitlements and environmental review for its waste management and recycling facility project in the city of Irwindale. Climate change expert David Smith joined the San Francisco office in April 2018 from Stice & Block.
‘Extremely experienced’, Paul Hastings LLP provides ‘valuable information and a practical approach’ in high-profile cases, which recently included assisting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (LAPA) with the acquisition and development of a new Frank Gehry designed headquarters building for LAPA’s Youth Orchestra; this matter was led by practice co-head Jeff Haber. ‘Outstanding’ and ‘down-to-earth’, other practice co-head Mitchell Menzer is acting for Chinese real estate developer Shen Zhen New World I in negotiations with the City of Los Angeles regarding the redevelopment of the site of The LA Hotel. Gordon Hart is also recommended. All lawyers named are based in Los Angeles.
The team at Vedder Price is headed by the respected Danielle Meltzer Cassel and operates out of Chicago, where it advises lenders, equity investors, developers, and nonprofits on land use and development entitlements and public incentive programs. The practice group has built a number of longstanding relationships with prominent clients such Brookfield Properties (formerly General Growth Properties), which it advises on land use and zoning matters in relation to the open-air Oakbrook shopping centre. Other highlights included acting for Victory Park Capital in a complex series of redevelopment projects and air rights transfers involving a prime downtown Chicago site, and assisting Suncast with the reestablishment of private rail access for a large industrial manufacturing expansion.
The San Francisco-based team at Arent Fox LLP is advising Facebook on the continued expansion of its headquarters in Menlo Park, including 962,000 square feet of office space designed by Frank Gehry. In other work, the team is acting for DoveHill Capital Management and Starwood Capital Group in the proposed redevelopment of an existing 173-room Sheraton Hotel located in the Moffett Park area of Sunnyvale, California, into a 358-room, full-service hotel under the 1 Hotels brand. Key figures in the team include practice chair Timothy Tosta and senior associate Frank Petrilli.
Led by Jeffrey Bercow, Miami land use and environmental law boutique Bercow Radell Fernandez & Larkin assisted real estate developer CK Privé Group with obtaining city council approval for Uptown Biscayne, an approximately 1 million square foot project in North Miami Beach involving a 16-story residential tower, retail, office and parking space. Additionally, the team acted for Babylon International, the owner of a property in downtown Miami, in the successful challenge of the designation of historical significance assigned to an Arquitectonica-designed building on the client's property, which allowed for the structure to be demolished and for the rezoning of the site. Melissa Tapanes Llahues is another key practitioner.
Miami’s Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP handles bid protests, environmental matters, government contracting, and PPPs, bringing to the table lawyers with experience as urban planners and engineers. Adding to its impressive track record, the firm is retained by New York real estate developer PMG in relation to the zoning application for a 49-story apartment tower, which will fill one of the last remaining plots on the Biscayne Boulevard development. The team also handles contentious matters. Names to note include managing partner and PPP specialist Albert Dotson and Stanley Price, who heads the land development and government relations practice group.
Cooley LLP’s Mark Looney is advising Comstock Partners on the final approval stages of the Reston Station development, and is also advised Woodfield Acquisitions on its project involving replacing a vacant two-story office building with a new 308-unit apartment building. The practice group has expertise in zoning, entitlement and permitting processes throughout Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC relating to a variety of project types such as retail, hospitality, industrial, entertainment, telecoms, data centers and planned communities. Also recommended are Colleen Gillis and 'outstanding’ associate Jill Parks, who ‘works tirelessly for her clients’. John Lavoie heads the practice group. All named lawyers are based in Reston. Antonio Calabrese moved to DLA Piper LLP (US) in May 2018.
Acting for real estate developers, property owners, non-profit housing providers and governmental agencies, Farella Braun + Martel LLP specializes in residential, commercial and institutional developments in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the California wine and cannabis industries; it also has expertise in alternative energy projects. Practice head Steven Vettel is assisting Pacific Eagle with obtaining land use entitlements for two hotel projects in San Francisco, one of them being the first commercial building in the city designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Also recommended is St Helena-based Katherine Philippakis, who has developed a practice advising wineries and recently handled two matters for Napa’s Truchard family, one of the first to develop vineyards in Napa’s Carneros region; Philippakis advised the client on obtaining a use permit for a 100,000 gallon winery, and successfully opposed the development of a 50 home subdivision on environmentally and seismically sensitive lands adjacent to the client’s vineyards.
New York-based Herrick, Feinstein LLP houses a specialized team including lawyers and urban planners, who have experience working in state and city entities and can handle a range of complex land use and zoning matters. In highlight work, the firm advised RAL Development on obtaining approvals for the Union Square Tech Training Center. Mitchell Korbey heads the practice group.
The ‘tremendously talented team’ at Los Angeles-based Mayer Brown is noted for its ability to ‘cultivate the relationships needed to move big projects forward’. Leveraging deep experience in controversial cases, the team has been advising Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City on the construction of a new 18-story, 450-key hotel tower adjacent to Universal Studios that will connect to one of the highest occupancy hotels in the City of Los Angeles, within walking distance of the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park; the project is opposed by the latter’s owner NBCUniversal, which must give the project a green light for it to go forward. The team is also acting for 8150 Sunset in the development of a $600m Frank Gehry-designed project, which includes 229 residential units and 60,000 square feet of commercial space on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights. Practice head Edgar Khalatian is ‘dedicated, pays attention to detail and keeps the ball moving forward among all stakeholders on the project’. Patty Tubert is also recommended.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP covers the full range of land use and zoning matters for office, mixed-use, retail, hospitality, residential, industrial, institutional, sports, military and health-sector developments. A busy year for the team, highlight work included acting for Holy Names University in its collaboration with Samuel Merritt University, where it advised on the land use aspects of campus improvements. The team also acted for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board and Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission in several agreements, including the stadium and concession agreements for the new Rams Stadium in Inglewood, and also advised Poly Real Estate Group on its acquisition of a 40% equity interest in the $6bn Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island redevelopment project, situated along the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. San Francisco-based Rachel Horsch leads the real estate practice.
Based across California, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP advises on CEQA documenting and defense, environmental and historic preservation matters, land use planning and entitlements, permitting and regulatory compliance, and related legislation. Highlight work included the firm is acting as lead land use counsel for the joint venture developing the $1.5bn Angels Landing in Los Angeles, and successfully defended developer Newhall Land in a federal lawsuit challenging several environmental concerns regarding the client’s $3bn Newhall Ranch project. San Diego-based Nancy Scull is the key contact.
Of late, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP's New York-based team has been particularly active on the developer side. In a standout highlight, the team acted for Red Hook Container Terminal in its agreement with the New York City Economic Development Corporation regarding the $115m reactivation of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal as a shipping hub. Headed by Ross Moskowitz, the team is also advising the F&T Group on the development of a 3-acre mixed-use site in downtown Flushing. Karen Scanna is also recommended.
Arizona-based land use and zoning boutique Withey Morris PLC has an active local practice advising developers, landowners, tenants and investors on a huge variety of retail, office, industrial, residential, mixed-use, health, and hospitality and entertainment projects. The team is advising Five Star Development on the development of the Ritz-Carlton in Paradise Valley, near Scottsdale, and is also leading the plans for the redevelopment of Papago Plaza shopping center in Scottsdale. Jason Morris and Adam Baugh are key contacts.