Real Estate, Development and Land Use

Today’s complex real estate market is more demanding than ever. The stakes are higher and the risks are greater, but so are the potential rewards.

Wolff & Samson’s Real Estate, Development and Land Use Group combines experience, creativity and business acumen to skillfully navigate clients through the multitude of real estate and regulatory issues involved in the acquisition, financing, development, redevelopment, leasing and management of property. Our results-driven, transaction-oriented practice is equipped to take on the full spectrum of real estate matters facing our clients at every phase of the real estate cycle, from acquisition and financing, to large-scale development, to dispute resolution.

Active nationally, regionally and locally, our attorneys represent owners, investors, developers, asset managers, lenders, commercial and retail tenants, construction professionals and community associations. Our extensive real estate capabilities include:

  • Acquisition
  • Financing
  • Construction
  • Project development and redevelopment
  • Leasing and property management
  • Land use
  • Condominiums and planned real estate development
  • Environmental
  • Divestiture
  • Debt restructuring
  • Dispute resolution
  • Real estate litigation
  • Tax appeals

The scope of our practice extends well past the bounds of traditional real estate practitioners. Having the full range of disciplines necessary to execute complex transactions and address the full gamut of real estate-related issues allows us to offer clients counsel on such wide ranging matters as debt and equity offerings, environmental remediation, joint ventures and tax structuring, loan workouts and resolution of disputes among co-venturers.

We draw upon the knowledge of our experienced land use attorneys to obtain necessary approvals and variances as well as to resolve issues before agencies and boards at all levels of government. Our clients benefit from the counsel offered by our colleagues in our Corporate and Securities and Tax Groups regarding deal structuring and tax avoidance. Working hand-in-hand with our Environmental, Government and Regulatory Affairs and Litigation attorneys, we guide our clients through environmental and regulatory hurdles and carefully and efficiently deal with the variety of real estate-related disputes that may pose a threat to their assets.

The attorneys in our real estate practice take great pride in working closely with clients and delivering the highest quality legal services on a cost-effective basis. Our experience through all cycles of the real estate market, our blend of technical proficiency and business judgment, and our commitment to excellence allows us to provide the comprehensive array of legal services so critical in today’s competitive marketplace.  In addition, we are recognized as having one of the leading Real Estate practices in New Jersey in the 2010 inaugural "Best Law Firms" rankings published by U.S. News and Best Lawyers.

Real Estate Acquisition, Sale and Asset Management

The attorneys in Wolff & Samson’s Real Estate, Development and Land Use Group possess a diverse background that encompasses the acquisition, sale, financing, leasing and management of virtually every type of real estate asset. These assets include office, retail, hotel, gaming, entertainment, industrial, residential and mixed-use properties, as well as raw land, leasehold interests and air rights. With a unique combination of in-depth legal experience and a strong yet practical perspective, our ability to help clients maximize the value of the property they own, manage and lease is without parallel.

Redevelopment

Redevelopment is the legal process designed to restore economic vitality to blighted areas wherever they may exist. The process is governed by several state statutes designed to function in harmony. Using these legal tools to maximum advantage necessitates an in-depth knowledge of laws governing zoning and planning, contracts, taxation of real property, public finance and economic stimulus programs offered to incentivize redevelopment activities.

Wolff & Samson’s real estate attorneys, together with our colleagues in the firm’s other practice groups, are at the forefront of redevelopment efforts of diverse types. The firm is privileged to act as redevelopment counsel to developers of many of New Jersey’s largest, highest visibility redevelopment projects. We offer top to bottom legal services, including the “area in need” plan, the redeveloper agreement, PILOT’S, redevelopment area bonds and the use of public incentive programs.

Likewise, our litigators, supported by the firm’s real estate group, have achieved notable success in matters where property owners have initiated legal challenges alleging the inappropriate use of redevelopment powers by municipalities, defending redevelopers against challenges by both private and public interests and acquiring property through eminent domain proceedings.

Leasing and Property Management

Our leasing practice encompasses a broad spectrum of asset types and transactions. Representing both landlords and tenants in markets nationwide, our practice includes not only conventional office, retail and industrial leases, but also ground, net and operating leases. We take pride in our representation of many well-known national and regional retailers and manufacturers.

As a result of our representation of retail tenants, we have earned a reputation as a leader in retail leasing around the country. Over the years, our leasing experience has extended to other specific areas and projects such as high-tech data centers, telecommunications facilities, production studios, entertainment/retail centers, theaters, theme restaurants, foreign missions, designer showrooms, garage and parking facilities, and the master leasing of signage rights.

The significant experience gained over the years through our close partnerships with owners, property managers and facilities professionals allows us significant understanding of all aspects of management and lease administration. For owners, this is part of our full-service capability. For corporate users of real estate, our experience is an integral part of their facilities management programs.

Project Development and Construction

Wolff & Samson real estate attorneys are highly experienced in every aspect of project development, acquisition, design, governmental approvals, financing, construction, management and brokerage.

Our development work for clients encompasses both the public and private sectors and myriad asset types, including office, shopping center, residential, industrial, entertainment/retail, hotel and resort properties. We are particularly seasoned in matters involving large-scale development as well as mixed-use projects involving commercial, hotel and retail components. We regularly appear before local and state agencies to obtain the permits and approvals necessary to greenlight development projects.

Our construction background includes representation of developers, construction managers and contractors on major commercial projects as well as work on behalf of tenants in connection with the build-out of office and retail facilities. Through our experience in the construction process, we are well-qualified to negotiate the complex construction agreements required by major development projects.

Real Estate Financing and Loan Restructuring

We represent lenders and borrowers in connection with all phases of mortgage lending, including the financing of fee, leasehold and other real estate interests. We also gain competitive advantage from our ability to draw upon the experience of our colleagues in our Corporate and Securities and Public Finance Groups for assistance in structuring innovative debt and equity financing from investors in public and private markets.

Many of our projects include sophisticated financing mechanisms involving leasehold mortgage financing, sale/leaseback transactions, and other complex operating agreements such as equity and cash flow participating arrangements. Having experience in the ups and downs of real estate cycles, we are keenly aware of the financing issues facing owners and lenders.

Our attorneys have significant experience with both performing and non-performing loans and have represented lenders and borrowers in connection with loan workouts and restructurings, and the acquisition and disposition of non-performing loan portfolios. Together with our colleagues in our Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights Group, we also advise our clients on prepackaged bankruptcies and the acquisition of assets from an estate in bankruptcy.

Land Use

Whether as part of a real estate acquisition and development team advising on a land acquisition, or appearing before a municipal board for an approval or variance, Wolff & Samson’s land use attorneys are an integral part of our real estate practice. We regularly represent property owners and developers in front of municipal boards and agencies throughout New Jersey. We are known for guiding our clients through the complex land use process with diligence, timely determination and cost effective advocacy.

Condominiums and Planned Real Estate Development

We represent developers and sponsors of residential, commercial and mixed use planned real estate projects from inception through sales. Our attorneys prepare offering materials for the registration of projects with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and regularly advise clients regarding state and municipal regulatory matters concerning condominiums and other types of planned real estate projects.

Dispute Resolution and Real Estate Litigation

We have extensive experience in joint ventures and often address and resolve disputes that arise among co-venturers in real estate projects. For ventures with intractable issues, we pursue a variety of courses, from winding down a venture and distribution of assets, to exploring bankruptcy alternatives. Together with our Litigation colleagues, we litigate commercial lease disputes, zoning and land use controversies and condemnation proceedings.

Tax Appeals

Wolff & Samson’s real estate tax appeals attorneys apply a thorough knowledge of state and local property tax laws, appraisal methodology, and valuation formulas to help achieve our clients’ long- and short-term goals. With capabilities across the spectrum of real estate transactions, real property taxation and litigation, we employ a comprehensive approach to each client’s tax appeal. Our attorneys represent both municipalities and property owners before federal and state tax courts and the various county tax boards in New Jersey and provide legal counsel in a wide array of tax appeal proceedings.

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