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Real Estate

Real Estate Overview

Practice Areas

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  • Overview
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Godfrey & Kahn's Real Estate Practice Group is in the center of real estate activity in Wisconsin.

Our clients include businesses, financial institutions, developers, contractors, construction managers, brokers and others who need legal experience with real estate matters. The firm's philosophy stresses that attorneys should serve as business advisors and provide practical business strategies and solutions. Because of this, the Real Estate Practice Group has the requisite legal skill and business experience to ensure that our clients' real estate holdings are strategically employed to serve our clients' needs.

A review of the team's specific real estate services demonstrates broad experience, particularly in the areas of acquisition, sale, leasing, finance and development of real estate. In addition, because real estate investments involve many other legal disciplines, the real estate team works closely with related practice groups within the firm to ensure that our clients receive integrated service in an efficient manner.

Within the state of Wisconsin, the real estate team is uniquely situated to deal with the inherently local nature of real estate transactions. The real estate team works closely with local governmental agencies, contractors and developers throughout Wisconsin. Our attorneys, through years of diligent collaboration with governmental units and real estate professionals, provide a knowledge and background to our clients that is unique to their needs and the laws of our state.

However, our experience is not limited to the confines of Wisconsin's borders. Because our clients have real estate holdings throughout the country, our attorneys understand the challenge of working within various jurisdictions and also appreciate the value of working collaboratively with real estate professionals in other states to provide efficient client service.

Capital Formation/Joint Ventures

We organize and negotiate agreements relating to the formation of general and limited partnerships, limited liability companies and joint ventures. We also work with the firm's Securities Practice Group to assist developers and syndicators in raising equity funds and with securities law compliance.

Condemnation

Our real estate attorneys have knowledge of the complex laws and regulations involving condemnation of real estate. We have experience in assisting statewide utility companies and governmental entities to obtain real estate for public needs. We represent landowners in seeking appropriate compensation for their real estate when faced with a condemnation proceeding.

Condominiums

We represent developers and owners in all stages of condominium development or conversion, including the preparation of commercial and residential condominium declarations, by-laws, articles of incorporation and related documentation, as well as interactions with governmental agencies and lenders to obtain necessary approvals and financing.

Development

Local, regional and national developers look to us to provide turnkey legal services for their development projects from site selection through occupancy, including due diligence review, acquisition of vacant land, negotiation of design and construction agreements, acquisition of construction, and permanent financing and negotiation of leases for space in the improved project. Real Estate Practice Group attorneys regularly assist clients in the negotiation of joint ventures to raise equity for development projects, advise clients on zoning and other land use and regulatory matters, and negotiate development agreements with governmental authorities for public/private developments.

Finance

Our attorneys counsel borrowers, banks, mortgage companies, life insurance companies and other financial institutions in construction and permanent mortgage loan financings. These transactions include revolving credit facilities for phased land improvements, multi-tenant apartment buildings and condominiums; construction loans for office, retail, and industrial developments; leasehold mortgages; and permanent loans for all phases of commercial real estate projects.

Government Assisted Financing/HUD/Tax Credits

We counsel clients on matters relating to Tax Incremental Financing Districts, Enterprise Development Zone tax credits and other private/public development projects. Members of the practice group assist developers, owners and investors in HUD projects and counsel clients in obtaining and transferring low income rental housing tax credits, historic rehabilitation tax credits and new market tax credits.

Land Use Regulations and Zoning

We assist clients with appearances at public hearings, negotiations with local officials and related services in obtaining various land use regulatory approvals, including variances, conditional use permits and zoning applications. In addition, our team has extensive experience in negotiating land divisions with municipalities, including subdivision and certified survey maps, and the requisite public improvements and developer's agreement that may be required by the municipality.

Leasing

We represent national, regional and local landlords and tenants in all aspects of commercial leasing, including office, retail and industrial properties. Our attorneys have extensive experience in negotiating and structuring complex commercial leases and are well versed in the business aspects of the commercial lease transaction. We also represent a number of commercial real estate brokers and property management companies.

Purchases & Sales

The Real Estate Practice Group represents buyers and sellers in all aspects of purchasing and selling real estate, including negotiation of purchase and sale agreements, review of title insurance, surveys, environmental reports and other due diligence items, negotiation of easements, and preparation and review of closing documents. Our attorneys have extensive experience coordinating multisite and multistate transactions, as well as other complex transactional matters such as the disposition of distressed real estate out of bankruptcy, Brownfield redevelopment and tax-deferred exchanges. By following a multidisciplinary approach to transactions, we can assist clients in identifying potential problems early in the process and recommend appropriate solutions.

Tax Strategies

Real estate holdings often require the implementation of complex, sophisticated tax-planning strategies. These strategies often include the effective implementation of tax-free exchanges; the proper use of charitable contributions of real estate through conservation easements and other charitable vehicles; and the proper reporting of income, loss, gain and depreciation. Members of the Real Estate Practice Group and Tax Practice Group work closely to develop effective tax planning strategies that meet the needs of our clients.

Workouts, Foreclosures & Receiverships

Our attorneys represent landlords, owners and lenders in workouts, forbearance agreements and commercial foreclosures, and assist receivers in the management of troubled real estate holdings.In addition, the Real Estate Practice Group works closely with the firm's Business, Finance, Bankruptcy & Restructuring Bankruptcy Practice Group in a variety of situations where the complexities of the bankruptcy code may affect our clients' real estate interests.

Marvin Bynum

Bynum, Marvin C. II

Associate
Milwaukee
414.287.9215414.287.9215
Stephen Chernof

Chernof, Stephen L.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9454414.287.9454
Michael Dwyer

Dwyer, Michael J.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9474414.287.9474
Benjamin Laird

Laird, Benjamin W.

Of Counsel
Green Bay
920.436.7673920.436.7673
Lynn Ludke

Ludke, Lynn A.

Special Counsel
Milwaukee
414.287.9631414.287.9631
Timothy McCoy

McCoy, Timothy J.

Shareholder
Green Bay
920.436.7674920.436.7674
Laura Meronk

Meronk, Laura H.

Shareholder
Appleton
920.831.6361920.831.6361
Matthew Munro

Munro, Matthew V.

Special Counsel
Milwaukee
414.287.9552414.287.9552
Carol Muratore

Muratore, Carol A.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9655414.287.9655
Mark O'Neill

O'Neill, Mark E.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9233414.287.9233
David Platt

Platt, David W.

Associate
Green Bay
920.436.7672920.436.7672
Danny Tang

Tang, Danny S.

Associate
Madison
608.284.2639608.284.2639
Nicholas Vlies

Vlies, Nicholas J.

Associate
Green Bay
920.436.7683920.436.7683
Nicholas Wahl

Wahl, Nicholas P.

Shareholder
Milwaukee
414.287.9230414.287.9230
Carol Lee Hopkins

Hopkins, Carol Lee

Paralegal
Milwaukee
414.287.9471414.287.9471

News & Publications

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Representative Experience

Office: Purchase, Sales, Development, Leasing

  • Manpower Global Headquarters – Represented tenant in build-to-suit lease of 280,000-square-foot building, parking structure and skywalk.
  • Edison Technology Center – Represented developer in development, lease and eventual sale of approximately 506,000-square-foot office facility for GE Healthcare in the Milwaukee County Research Park.
  • Represented developer in development and lease of 200,000 plus-square-foot office building and parking structure in downtown Milwaukee and in subsequent sale of the development in a syndicated TIC transaction.
  • Represented lender in historic tax credit renovation of office building in Schlitz Office Park.
  • Represented the developer/landlord in various office headquarters building projects.
  • Represented landlord in leases of individual office space in office tower to law firms, investment banking firms, accounting firms and many other tenants.
  • Represented Zywave in build-to-suit lease of space as tenant in Mayfair Woods Office Park.

Retail: Purchases, Sales, Development, Leasing

  • Multi-Tenant and Big Box Anchored Shopping Centers – Represented buyer of downtown shopping center and developer/seller of 318,000-square-foot redeveloped urban Milwaukee shopping center.
  • Major Department Store - Represented national retailer in acquisition, development and leasing of department stores and distribution centers.
  • Retail Centers – Represented client in acquisition, expansion, leasing and ultimate sale of retail centers.
  • Grocery Stores – Represented regional retailer in acquisition, development, leasing and ultimate sale of grocery stores.
  • Leasing – Retail leasing experience includes representing landlords in leases to TJ Maxx, Blockbuster, Pick 'n Save, Borders, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Michaels, Whole Foods, Panera and other national and local retail tenants.
  • Financial Institutions – Experience in branch acquisition and development.

Industrial

  • Represented clients in acquisition of printing, paper converting and warehousing properties.
  • Represented regional developer in acquisition and lease-up of multiple mixed warehouse/office space in I-94 corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago.
  • Represented industrial corporation in sale/leaseback of key operations facility.
  • Represented national developer in appearances before local authorities in efforts to gain municipal approvals for industrial sites, including negotiation of TIF financing and developers agreements.

Financing: Representing borrowers and lenders on a wide variety of transactions

  • Represented lead lender in $57,000,000 loan to a tenants-in-common sponsor for the acquisition of a corporate office park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Represented lender in $20,000,000 loan to the Pabst Family for development of the Pabst Farms in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.
  • Represented lender in $30,000,000 loan to Cathedral Place, LLC for development of the Cathedral Place Condominium, a mixed-use office, residential and retail condominium.
  • Represented lender in a $36,000,000 loan to New Land Development for construction of the Kilbourn Towers Condominium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Represented higher education institution in connection with WHEFA bonds for the development of various campus facilities.
  • Regularly serve as local counsel for borrowers and lenders in significant Wisconsin loans, including TIC syndication, acquisitions and refinancing.

Multi-Use Facilities

  • Represented seller of land and major unit owner in a $70,000,000 mixed-use project in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • $60,000,000 historic tax credit rehab of downtown department store into a multi-use hotel, retail and office project.
  • Local counsel to national developer in $75,000,000 acquisition and TIC syndication of mixed-use development.

Health Care Development

  • Represented two health care entities in joint development of an approximately 292,000-square-foot biomedical research facility.
  • Regularly represent health care service providers in development and construction of hospitals, clinics and other care facilities throughout Milwaukee and Madison metropolitan regions.

Miscellaneous

  • Lambeau Field – Represented the Green Bay Brown County Professional Football Stadium District in the $295,000,000 renovation of Lambeau Field.
  • Hotel Metro – Historic tax credit rehab of downtown office building into boutique hotel.
  • Represented the purchaser of over 76,000 acres of timber land in northern Wisconsin.

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