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Monthly Archives: August 2014

10 Things to Know About Commercial Real Estate Development Agreements

I was invited recently to speak at the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education Annual Real Estate Short Course to discuss what every lawyer should know RSP_LogoFull_2PMSabout commercial real estate development agreements. In preparing for the presentation, a developer client suggested it is not only attorneys who need to know about development agreements – developer clients do as well.

So, on that note, the following is my list of the top 10 things attorneys and developers should know about commercial real estate development agreements.

TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS

1.     Development Agreements are not the same thing as Construction Contracts.

2.     There are no “master form” Development Agreements.

3.     Each Development Agreement is unique to the specific development to which it relates, and must accommodate the sometimes conflicting needs, demands and desires of the constituent stakeholders, including the (more…)

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Information Providers – Can We Sue Them If They’re Wrong?

Of Course We Can Sue Them . . . But Can We Hold Them Liable?

No one knows everything. It’s a simple fact of life. Often, businesses turn to other businesses and professionals to obtain needed information. The range of commercial information providers assisting business owners and real estate investors, developers and lenders gather and analyse information is vast.

Diana H. Psarras Business & Trust Litigation, Shareholder -Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.
Diana H. Psarras
Business & Trust Litigation, Shareholder, Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

The question is: Do we have a legal right to rely on the information they provide? What if the information is wrong? What if we rely on that incorrect information and suffer a loss? Is the information provider liable?

It could be anything from hiring an appraiser to appraise a property to support a commercial loan; hiring a lab to analyze nutrition and caloric content of food products; or engaging a financial consultant to evaluate a company’s assets and liabilities as part of a business acquisition or merger; or seeking out a lending institution to provide information regarding the creditworthiness of a potential borrower. We might hire a structural engineer to evaluate the structural integrity of a building or bridge or other structure; or engage a surveyor to determine the scope and size of a parcel of land, or the location of easements and improvements located on the property, or the existence of rights of way to access the property; or we might retain a person or business holding itself out as a “due diligence” expert to investigate the essential facts necessary to enable us to determine whether to proceed with a particular transaction or project. The list of commercial information providers we rely upon to conduct our affairs is nearly endless.

Another simple fact of life is that people can and do make mistakes. They misinterpret information. Misstate the facts. Fail to discover and disclose all material information necessary to make information they have provided sufficient to enable informed action and decision-making.

What happens when your information provider gives you bad information and you suffer a loss as a result? Do you have any recourse? What if (more…)

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Cities Shooting Economic Development in the Foot

NOTICE TO MUNICIPALITIES:  If you want economic development, ACT LIKE IT!

Sometimes, municipalities can be their own worst enemies when it comes to economic development. At best, things they sometimes do, or don’t do, evidence disinterest, if not incompetence. Alternatively, it may evidence a breach of trust to the community and local taxpayers.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-city-development-image22231888Here’s the situation:

Recently, in representing developers before a variety of municipal governments, I have been struck by the Jekyll and Hyde  approach many have when in comes to economic development. Often, the city, town or village will have a fully staffed economic development department. It may pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, if not millions of dollars per year, to pay economic development staff salaries and to cover associated overhead. It will allocate or approve millions of dollars per year in economic development grants, tax incentives, tax increment financing, real estate tax abatements, sales tax revenue sharing, and other economic incentives to encourage investors and developers to bring private development to the city to create jobs, remove blight, increase land values and otherwise improve the quality of life of the community.  These are all proper uses of public economic development funds.

Then what?

As is necessary, the developer has its architect submit plans to the municipal building department for review and approval to obtain a building permit. There is nothing controversial about that, right? But then, in a remarkably high number of circumstances, the permitting process proceeds at only glacial speed.

How long should it take to review plans and specifications for a modest sized project that will bring jobs and economic opportunity to the city? The city has already confirmed that it wants the project by granting development incentives to the developer for the project. When the developer’s architect is moving forward as quickly as practical to obtain the building permit, should it take the municipal building department 9 to 10 months to issue a building permit on a modest sized structure? I’m not talking about a building the size of Trump Tower – I’m referring to buildings of less than 30,000 square feet. How long is reasonable?  Is a building permit review process that takes 9 to 10 months necessary or reasonable? How is that promoting economic development?

And once the building permit is issued, and work begins – how often should work have to stop because city building inspectors fail to show up for scheduled inspections?

Private investors and developers cannot afford – literally – to sit around and wait extended periods of time to move a project to completion. Market conditions change. The cost and availability of money changes. Commercial tenants choose other options.

The Point?

The point here is that municipalities need to get their act together if they want to promote economic development in their communities. Not all cities, towns and villages are guilty of dragging their feet or sending mixed messages, but there are many more than you may think. For developers, time really is money.

It is counterproductive – and more than a bit silly – for local governments to “give away” economic incentives to promote economic development, and then have their building departments drag their municipal feet in facilitating completion of the project. Economic development staff and their building department siblings need to get on the same page and follow the same agenda if a municipality truly wants to promote economic development.

Promoting Economic Development

Promoting economic development is not merely a matter of handing out economic incentives. That can be useful – and sometimes necessary – to promote economic development in your community, but it is not the whole story. To get the economic development engine running, local governments need to take a holistic approach that fully embraces and encourages desired economic development. It needs to walk the walk.  It needs to expedite services to facilitate development. It needs to get its collective act together – in all municipal departments – to genuinely do what is in the best economic interests of the community.

Commercial developers and their prospective commercial tenants and users have choices as to where to invest their money to build new projects that promote economic growth. Most development opportunities are regional, if not national or global. If your town will not do all it can reasonably do to truly promote economic development in a meaningful way, some other town likely will.

This is not a threat – it is a practical reality. If you are in local government and genuinely want economic development, I suggest, with all due respect, that you act like it.

Thanks for listening.

Kymn

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Keys Rules For Section 1031 Exchanges

This is the second installment of a three-part series on Section 1031 like-kind exchanges. Part 1 explained WHY you should consider use of a Section 1031 like-kind exchange when selling commercial or investment real property. Part 2 covers the key rules for HOW to implement a Section 1031 like-kind exchange. Part 3 will cover special issues applicable to a Section 1031 like-kind exchange when a Tenant-In-Common [TIC] interest is being acquired.

KEY RULES FOR SECTION 1031 EXCHANGES

U.S. Tax image [iStock]The following is an outline of key rules applicable to Section 1031 exchanges. Become familiar with these rules. Unless you intend to completely cash out of real estate investing, a Section 1031 exchange may work to your benefit. If you intend to keep investing in real estate or using real estate in your trade or business, a Section 1031 exchange will maximize the capital you have available to reinvest.

Key Elements of a Section 1031 Exchange*

What is Section 1031?

Section 1031 refers to Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

What does it do?

Section 1031 permits a taxpayer (the Exchangor) to dispose of certain real estate and personal property and replace it with like-kind property without being required to pay taxes on the transaction.

What property qualifies?

To qualify for a Section 1031 exchange, the property being disposed of (the Relinquished Property) must have been (more…)

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