A marquee service of Gould & Ratner, our Real Estate Practice supports clients with interests in some of the most desirable, iconic and innovative properties in Chicago and the United States.
Working with clients on both trophy transactions and high-volume deals, our lawyers have recently led such closings and representations as the acquisition and development of the Old Chicago Main Post Office, a national expansion for a retailer of hand-crafted coffee, development of a multiproperty Aspen ski resort, and several transit-oriented development projects in Chicagoland.
The sophistication and business practicality of our full-service counsel matches the complexity of our clients’ projects and transactions. We represent property owners, developers, lenders and investors in their acquisitions, dispositions, sales, financings, leasing and development. Over the past several years, the value of our clients’ matters has ranged from $1-2 million for fast food restaurant investments, to $800 million for the redevelopment of Chicago’s Old Post Office, to $840 million for the purchase of Sears (now Willis) Tower in 2004.
Real Estate Expertise in Chicago and Beyond
Gould & Ratner works with clients based in, or with holdings in, the nation’s largest real estate markets and beyond, guiding projects and deals involving commercial, office, industrial, retail, shopping center, multifamily, hospitality and hotel properties.
Exemplifying the depth of our real estate capabilities is our representation of 601 W Companies, a prominent East Coast-based development firm with a national prestige-property portfolio. We also are particularly attuned to the competitive reality facing retailers in urban centers, and we advise on large-scale development issues for national homebuilders, all part of the robust variety of services we provide to clients.
Our skill and depth of experience allows us to adeptly meet and embrace the needs of an increasingly dynamic and creative real estate market. We guided clients through the 2009 real estate market downturn and recovery, helping them balance risks and opportunities amid volatile capital access, regional market cycles and new regulatory and political landscapes.
On a day-to-day basis, our lawyers handle virtually all types of real estate transactions, including:
- Development: office, industrial and residential
- Commercial leasing
- Retail acquisitions and leasing projects: National, regional and local companies
- Specialty projects: New community, golf course, resort and reclaimed property
- Multiparcel assemblage
- Tax-deferred exchange transactions
- Mixed-use transactions
- Common-interest communities
- Management agreements
- Construction and mortgage financing
- Environmental and contamination issues
- Real estate workouts
- Distressed assets
Additionally, our extended real estate team includes lawyers who advise and counsel clients through every phase of complex construction matters, using a unique blend of negotiating and drafting acumen, technical expertise, construction industry experience, and courtroom-honed trial and arbitration skills.
Chicago is our home and our real estate team frequently acts as local counsel to global and national law firms and their sophisticated clients doing business here, in the suburbs and in downstate Illinois. For more details on how we can help as local counsel, please see our Real Estate Local Counsel information here.
Tax and Related Real Estate Services
In addition to representing lenders, borrowers, developers, owners and equity investors, our full-service real estate practice also counsels on entitlement, zoning and tax issues as they relate to real estate and construction transactions. The firm is often called on to advise on matters involving:
- Complex valuation issues for substantial commercial and industrial properties
- Assessment, property tax exemption, appeals, and tax rate and undervaluation complaints before local, Illinois state and circuit courts
- Tax and wealth transfer matters for family businesses
A Modern Legacy of Commercial Real Estate and Development
From our roots representing the Crown family’s sand and gravel company in the 1930s, Gould & Ratner has progressively expanded its core real estate practice over the years.
Our work in the ensuing decades has included high-stakes complex negotiations for the ownership of Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building. We remain active legal advisors to the Crown family’s vast and varied holdings, and recently negotiated a complicated partial sale and equity funding for Aspen Skiing Co. involving a full-scale, multiproperty resort.
In addition to our Crown family counsel, Gould & Ratner real estate lawyers are currently working with Chicago’s revitalized commercial lending community, particularly on construction loans, and we are accommodating contemporary needs for single-family and multifamily housing projects as part of transit-oriented development. Additional client challenges we are advising on include shifting requirements for urban retail space and increasing environmental considerations, including for reclaimed property projects.
Full-Service Legal Leaders in Complex Real Estate Projects
Gould & Ratner attorneys are leaders in preeminent national and regional real estate organizations, including the Urban Land Institute, Commercial Real Estate Executive Women of Chicago (CREW) and Realty Club of Chicago, and we are the law firm of choice for dispute resolution for the largest commercial real estate firm.
In recent years, our clients – both building owners and tenants – have leased millions of square feet of retail, industrial and office space with our help. One of our core areas is downtown office buildings, and we have advised on a wide array of legal issues for buildings such as Aon Center, Sears (now Willis) Tower, Civic Opera Building, 600 West Chicago, 222 North LaSalle and Prudential Plaza in Chicago, as well as other large-scale urban and suburban properties nationwide.
Real Estate Litigation
Our real estate team includes lawyers with significant experience in complex, high-stakes litigation representing real estate industry clients such as tenants, owners, developers, buyers, lenders, shopping center developers and owners, franchisees/investors and banks. A sampling of our real estate litigation experience includes our handling disputes involving:
- Commercial leasing and termination/eviction
- Easements and covenants of record
- Title claims
- Title insurance coverage
- Specific performance and injunctions
- Partnership breach of fiduciary duty
We have litigated numerous cases involving nearly every type of real estate, from office and retail to condominiums and industrial/manufacturing, appearing in both state and federal courts in Chicago and across the country.
Added-Value Service to Real Estate Clients
Within real estate circles, we are known for flexing the same muscle strength of firms 20-40 times our size but delivering service and efficient pricing on par with successful real estate law boutiques.
For clients, that translates to receiving more than responsiveness. It means we work at a pace that keeps transactions ahead of deadlines, leverage experience to foresee obstacles, and devise solutions and structures to keep deals on track to closing.
Through our representation of a multitude of family investors, closely held businesses and entrepreneurs, we truly understand the power of a personal touch. Whether hosting firmwide coffee tastings to gain firsthand experience with the products of one retail client, Philz Coffee, or pulling out the stops to uphold clients’ visions for transforming skylines or reinventing urban lifestyles, Gould & Ratner offers a complete commitment to clients.