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Real Estate, Land Use & Zoning

LeClairRyan's Real Estate attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience in representing borrowers, developers, owners, and financial institutions in all areas of real estate law. We have teams who focus on real estate acquisitions and financing; land use and zoning; and real estate litigation. Our attorneys are recognized by their peers as leaders in their respective fields and constantly stay abreast of emerging industry trends as well as any changes in real estate laws and regulations. Our business model stresses working closely with our clients to identify their objectives and areas of concern, and to craft effective, cost-efficient solutions that align with their goals. 

Our Real Estate services include: 

  • Acquisition
  • Sales
  • Financing
  • Land Use and Zoning
  • Construction and Development
  • Eminent Domain
  • Historic Preservation
  • Litigation
  • Community Associations and Condominiums
  • Public/Private Partnerships

Real Estate Acquisition and Financing

Successful real estate acquisition and financing transactions require specialized knowledge and significant experience, and those are apt descriptors of our attorneys who focus on this area. Our past and present client base includes borrowers, lenders, developers, owners, and financial institutions, and we have experience representing them in a broad array of commercial real property-based equity and debt transactions, including leveraged lease, sale-leaseback, structured finance, and joint ventures. Deals in which we have played a role have included a wide variety of mortgage products, from acquisition, development, and construction financing to permanent financing and leasing of real estate development projects. We are also skilled in the creation of planned unit developments and condominium and cooperative housing projects, including the registration for sale with requisite regulatory authorities.

Our lending practice includes financing and securitization of all types of loans on a national basis. We regularly represent clients in transactions involving ground leases, air rights leases, condominium financing, and subordinate financing arrangements, including mezzanine loans. The securitization involved in these deals runs the gamut, from industrial, office, and retail properties to apartments and mobile home parks. We represent owners and investors in tax credit transactions and cooperative public and private financing arrangements, and we have also represented financial institutions in the sale of commercial mortgage portfolios.

Representative engagements:

  • Negotiated the sale of 35 federally assisted apartment projects in a three-stage closing transaction.
  • Represented a lender in financing various large-scale, mixed-use (residential, recreational, and multi-family) projects in mid-Atlantic states.
  • Represented developers in renovations and permanent financing of historic renovation projects involving federal and state tax credits.
  • Represented commercial banks and thrifts in the closing of construction loans to finance the development of construction projects, including land acquisition and site improvement, office buildings, shopping centers, housing developments, industrial parks, resorts, hotels, casino hotels, and other commercial developments.
  • Represented a lender in financing five shopping centers with multiple borrowers.
  • Representing clients in the purchase, financing, and development of shopping centers.
  • Representing clients in the purchase, financing, and redevelopment of big box retail facilities.
  • Representing clients in the acquisition and financing of marina facilities.
  • Representing clients in the purchase and financing of office buildings and multi-family housing complexes throughout the East Coast and Midwest regions, including structuring deals through co-tenant ownership to accommodate the investment of 1031 exchange funds.
  • Represented a national life insurance company as the lender in numerous permanent loan transactions for a variety of real estate types, including agricultural, office, and retail centers.
  • Represented regional and national banks in construction and financing loans related to church and school expansions.
  • Representing clients in the purchase and financing of office/warehouse facilities.
  • Representing clients in the purchase of real estate for future development.
  • Representing clients in connection with construction loan financing.
  • Drafting and reviewing easement agreements necessary for the use and/or development of commercial property.
  • Negotiated leases for a national REIT in connection with class A office space in southeastern and central Virginia.

Land Use and Zoning

Environmental liability analysis, permitting, and zoning approvals are critical to the completion of any successful real estate development project, as well as to the maintenance and expansion of existing businesses. Our attorneys who focus on environmental and land use issues have a broad and deep knowledge of relevant laws, which they combine with practical insight and a thorough understanding of the local, state, and federal government processes necessary to shepherd a project to successful completion, thus assisting our clients to achieve their ultimate goals.

Services provided by our land use and zoning team:

  • Obtaining local zoning approvals. We have successfully obtained zoning approvals for our clients throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. By combining candor, the generation of citizen support, and the encouragement of reasonable accommodations for all interests, our attorneys have been able to obtain zoning approvals in record time for many challenging projects. We have obtained zoning approvals for residential subdivisions, group homes, manufacturing facilities, wireless communication facilities, power generating facilities, shopping centers, and commercial developments across many jurisdictions in Virginia. Our attorneys frequently are retained by local governments to defend zoning decisions or other governmental actions that have been challenged, a clear attestation to the high regard in which our abilities in this practice area are held.
  • Environmental permitting. The types and numbers of permits required from federal, state, and/or local regulators are contingent on the nature of the facility and industrial processes employed in a specific project. Among the permits that may be required, depending on the nature and location of the project, are air, wetlands, water withdrawal, wastewater treatment and discharge, and solid/hazardous waste treatment and disposal permits. Our attorneys have successfully obtained all these permits for our clients in an expeditious manner. In fact, one of our attorneys holds the "record" for obtaining a PSD (prevention of significant deterioration) Clean Air Act permit and federal and state wetlands permits for the largest steel manufacturing facility in Virginia: less than 100 days after submission of the completed applications.
  • Environmental compliance. We advise local governments and corporations regarding state and federal environmental statutes and regulations. We help our clients determine the applicability of environmental laws to specific situations and analyze how proposed laws and regulations might impact their operations. We also work extensively with federal, state, and local regulators to resolve environmental issues. Our guiding principle in this area of our practice is helping clients create practical solutions while complying with all applicable laws.
  • Land use and development. Our land use and environmental lawyers focus on the unique needs of developers, managers, lending institutions, and investors in evaluating real estate assets. We often advise clients on the acquisition and development of land, as well as on mergers and acquisitions of corporate assets. Our environmental and land use team assists in these transactions by securing the proper zoning designation, obtaining use and construction permits, identifying compliance and liability issues specific to the transaction, and conducting environmental due diligence.
  • Environmental litigation. Our attorneys are experienced environmental litigators. We have defended utilities, corporations, and municipalities against citizen suits under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act. We also have successfully defended clients against cost recovery actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
  • Agricultural issues. With state and federal regulators turning their focus to implementing stricter controls on the agricultural industry, our environmental attorneys have developed the requisite skills, both practical and legal, needed to assist farmers in addressing concerns such as water quality impact and permitting, best management practices, and restrictive zoning ordinances.

Real Estate Litigation

While litigation is not required in the majority of real estate transactions to bring them to a successful conclusion, it does represent an essential means of dispute resolution when parties to the transaction—or owners of competing real property interests—reach an impasse in disagreements. Our attorneys in LeClairRyan's real estate litigation practice have broad experience in litigating virtually every type of issue that may arise in a disputed real estate transaction. We represent our clients in all aspects of real estate litigation when necessary to protect, preserve, pursue, or clarify real property rights. We work closely with our colleagues in other areas of the firm, such as environmental law, creditors' rights, taxation, and corporate law, to create multidisciplinary teams to handle complex disputes that cut across traditional practice lines. With 22 offices across the nation, LeClairRyan is able to offer our clients the services of litigators who possess extensive local and regional experience in courts at every level.

Typical representations include:

  • Specific performance actions to enforce sale agreements, rights of first refusal, and other contractual rights relation to real property.
  • Partition actions to divide previously undivided interests in real property, such as joint tenancies.
  • Actions to clear clouds on title and title defects.
  • Mechanics' lien suits of contractors, subcontractors, and materials suppliers.
  • Creditors' suits to enforce judgment liens.
  • Reformation of deeds, deeds of trust, and other instruments to correct errors.
  • Actions to establish or clear title to property, easements, and other property rights.
  • Actions to establish disputed boundary lines.
  • Declaratory judgment actions to clarify property rights between competing claimants.
  • Condemnation actions and other eminent domain litigation.
  • Landlord-tenant disputes relating to commercial properties.


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