Leading Legals: New York’s Most Powerful Real Estate Attorneys
Attorneys are behind the scenes of any real estate transaction. They counsel their clients on land use, zoning and a labyrinth of abstruse regulations. Commercial Observer felt that all of these attorneys could have found their way onto our Power 100 list, but we’ve chosen to showcase them here, since they, too, deserve to be acknowledged for their contributions to New York’s real estate ecosystem.
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
Elise Wagner, a partner in the Land Use Department at Kramer Levin, navigates clients through the city’s complex public review procedures when they buy highly sought development sites. Recently, she represented the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation in its application for a variance to enlarge its headquarters, counseled Culture Shed on the development of a 170,000-square-foot arts center at Hudson Yards and helped Madison Square Garden obtain an extension of its land use permit. “My clients need a team that has a deep understanding of land use policy, practice and regulation, as well as a breadth of knowledge and experience with New York City real estate,” Ms. Wagner told Commercial Observer. “That is what I, and my colleagues in the Land Use Department at Kramer Levin, bring to all of our projects.”
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman
Wally Schwartz leads Kasowitz’s Real Estate-Transactional Practice Group, which he helped found in June 2011. Kasowitz’s key project this year has been the retail component of Hudson Yards, representing Related Companies. Last year, Mr. Schwartz secured the 250,000-square-foot lease with Neiman Marcus as the anchor tenant. Another highlight from the past year was representing Boston Properties in leasing 250 West 55th Street. “In the coming year, we look forward to expanding our real estate group to our Miami office, and perhaps other offices throughout the country,” Mr. Schwartz told CO.
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan
Ross Moskowitz, a partner in Stroock’s Real Estate Practice Group and the head of its Land Use Practice Group, has worked on a number of neighborhood-changing projects worth billions of dollars over the past year including the redevelopment of Kingsbridge Armory, Willets Point and the Domino Sugar Factory site. “There are two significant trends in the city that will impact my practice: the development of affordable housing … and the increase in public-private partnerships which my partner Karen Scanna and I see as not only a way to increase project efficiency but also provide cost savings which can then be invested into other projects,” said Mr. Moskowitz.
Schulte Roth & Zabel
Jeffrey Lenobel is a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel, where he serves as chair of the Real Estate Group. Recently, the firm’s real estate group advised Albertsons LLC and an investor group led by Cerberus Capital Management in the $9.2 billion acquisition of Safeway. The firm also advised on the construction of the expansion of the main gallery at MoMA’s main campus, counseled the Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group in developing Hudson Yards and he has represented an investment firm in the acquisition of several Rite Aid-leased properties. “The very active commercial real estate market is creating great opportunities for owners, lenders and investors,” said Mr. Lenobel.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Meredith Kane, a partner at Paul, Weiss has been pretty busy as of late. She’s working with Rockefeller Group Development in the financing and development of the Flushing Commons project in Queens, the MTA in the proposed new development of the 1 Vanderbilt office tower and the MTA Madison Avenue headquarters site in Midtown. “The deal that I’m really looking forward to closing in the next few weeks is the $500 million financing for the development of New York Wheel, the 600-foot-high observation wheel being built on the North Shore of Staten Island, which will be a fun and fabulous new feature on the city skyline,” said Ms. Kane.
Robert Ivanhoe has been the chair of Greenberg Traurig’s global real estate practice for the past 20 years. In his role, he oversees 240 attorneys, the largest real estate practice in the country. Mr. Ivanhoe had a banner year; he led his firm’s team in the $1.95 billion sale of the Waldorf Astoria and the $230 million sale of the 114-room Baccarat Hotel, which fetched roughly $2 million per room. When the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue closed this past month for $1.78 billion, Mr. Ivanhoe represented General Growth Properties. “The market is very tight. There’s a tremendous amount of capital that’s chasing just about every deal that comes on the market,” Mr. Ivanhoe told CO. “There’s much more capital from abroad than I’ve ever seen, [especially] from Asia and the Middle East. Everything is very competitive.”
Adam Leitman Bailey
Adam Leitman Bailey P.C.
Adam Leitman Bailey, the loquacious head of his eponymous firm, has built a practice of 26 attorneys who have taken on some sizable real estate battles. These include representing property owners and tenants in East Harlem in their legal battle against the city over losing their land to eminent domain. He represents real estate company BCB Properties and orchestrated the evictions of tenants at a number of its Crown Heights properties (allowing BCB to sell two properties for record prices). But on the other side of the coin Mr. Bailey is also representing tenants of Ziel Feldman’s Chatsworth building on West 72nd Street in a lawsuit that accuses Mr. Feldman’s firm of “harassing the tenants and trying to kick them out of their units,” according to the attorney. “This is the most exciting time to be in the real estate business as a litigator because the deals are the biggest they’ve ever been and the people are fighting like they’ve never fought before over every inch of New York City property,” Mr. Bailey told CO.