312-782-9000
Posts tagged with: project entitlement

A PASSION FOR (REAL ESTATE) BUSINESS

Lawyers are like most other business professionals. We want your business and we want your referrals – we just don’t always know the best way to ask for either.

 

Take me for example. I’ve been handling commercial real estate transactions and business deals for nearly 40 years. I’ve loved (almost) every day of it, and I look forward to many more (knock on wood). My clients appreciate my insights and value the guidance I provide. Other attorneys respect what I do, and brokers and CPAs like working with me because I strive for practical solutions to efficiently and effectively get the job done. I pay close attention to learn my clients’ business objectives, then work diligently and negotiate hard to get my clients what they expect – when they expect it. That’s what lawyers do. Or at least what all lawyers should do. For any client hiring a lawyer, what else is there?  Achieving client objectives and getting the deal closed on time is why lawyers exist. Deals fail, for sure, but we can never be the reason they fail. Deals that fail are a waste of everyone’s time and money. Getting the deal done, if it can be done, is our value proposition.

 

Deals are my lifeblood – my passion. They’re why I wake up every morning and get out of bed. I love this stuff. I can’t explain exactly why that is – it just is.  Why do musicians practice their instruments and play? Why do scratch golfers golf? Why do competitive skiers ski?  It’s our passion. We don’t know exactly why – it comes from within. And we always need more.

 

Commercial real estate deals always come first for me, but in every commercial real estate project is a business. They go hand in hand. My preference for a good real estate deal over a good business deal is a matter of only slight degree. There’s not really a number one and a number two. It’s more like #1 and #1A.

 

So what’s the problem?

 

The problem is, a lot of people don’t know I’m available to represent them. I write books and articles on commercial real estate. I give seminars on how to structure and close business and real estate transactions. I publish a commercial real estate and business blog.  People think I’m busy, or that I only handle huge deals. The truth is, I am busy – but never too busy to handle another deal, large or small. In the words of the late, great Lucille Ball: “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” We all loved Lucy!

 

The most shocking question I get from prospective clients is: “Would you (I) be willing to handle my (their) next business or commercial real estate deal?”  Are they kidding? My answer is always an emphatic “yes”! It’s my passion. It’s my love.  It’s what I live for.

 

To be sure, I’m a business professional, and I charge for what I do, but if you have a commercial real estate deal or business deal, and need representation, I’m in. Never be shy about calling me. We’ll work out the economics. The range of deals I handle is extraordinarily diverse. For a taste, look at my blog Harp-OnThis.com, or check out my latest book, Illinois Commercial Real Estate on Amazon.com or in your local public library. I love this stuff. I need this stuff. Of course I want to represent you. When can we get started?

 

So back to my initial point:  I do want your business and your business referrals. Like many other business professionals, I just don’t know the best way to go about asking for it. What do you suggest?

Continue Reading →

NEW BOOK – Illinois Commercial Real Estate

I’m happy to announce that the website for my new book, Illinois Commercial Real Estate is now live.  Visit www.Illinois-CRE.com for a book excerpt.

illinois-commercial-real-estate-book-coverIllinois Commercial Real Estate, Due Diligence to Closing, with Checklists, is intended as a practical handbook for investors, developers, brokers, lenders, attorneys and others interested in commercial real estate projects in Illinois. This book zeros-in on commercial real estate due diligence, and walks the reader through the due diligence process, from conception to closing, with a focus on making sure the commercial real estate project functions as intended after closing.  Checklists are provided as an aid to commercial real estate professionals to assist on evaluation of the property and the transaction on the path toward successful closing. As people in the real estate industry understand, if the deal doesn’t close, it doesn’t count.

I’d like to extend Special Thanks to:

My clients, whose passion for creative commercial development I share;

My partners and staff at Robbins, Salomon and Patt, Ltd., who work with me tirelessly to earn our client’s business every day.

Catherine A. Cooke and Emily C. Kaminski, attorneys at Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd. who provided legal research, advice, counseling, and technical editing;

James M. Mainzer, tax partner at Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd., for his insights and assistance on tax matters;

The editing staff at the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, for editing early versions of chapters 11, 12, 25, 27 and 28, which were first published in IICLE Practice Handbooks;

Dale V. Weaver, Illinois licensed surveyor, who was kind enough to convert my rough draft drawings into the diagrams included at chapter 25;

. . . and, of course, my friend and valuable resource, Linda Day Harrison, founder of theBrokerList, for her ongoing encouragement and support.

If you are buying, developing, financing, selling, leasing or otherwise dealing with commercial real estate in Illinois, I hope you will find Illinois Commercial Real Estate, Due Diligence to Closing, with Checklists to be a useful resource.

ENJOY!!!

R. Kymn Harp

RSP_LogoHD (3)

Continue Reading →

AIR RIGHTS DEVELOPMENT – Chicago, Illinois

WHY DEVELOP AIR RIGHTS?

Prime commercial land is limited. Prices per square foot can be astronomical. Demand for efficiency to maximize return on investment is growing. No wonder developers and property owners are looking to the sky, with varying degrees of success, to capture all the value they can from each urban parcel. Air rights development may be the solution you are looking for.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-chicago-skyline-image2898031Owners and developers, and people in general, are conditioned to think of potential development sites as flat surfaces with essentially two dimensions: north/south and east/west. They see only the surface of the land, and envision the building they will construct for the particular purpose they have in mind; a bank, a drugstore, a restaurant, a strip mall, a parking garage, an office building. If the parcel is larger than they need, they may envision subdividing the parcel to make two or more lots. In most cases, however, they think primarily in terms of land coverage for the type of building they need. They visualize only the two dimensional space depicted on their Site Plan or Plat of Survey.

 

In 30 out of 50 states, including Illinois and all other Mid-Western states, the “Rectangular Survey System” is in effect. The Rectangular Survey System was adopted in 1785 to meet the needs of the Federal Government as it faced the challenge of dividing vast areas of undeveloped land lying west of the original 13 colonies. The system, developed under the direction of Thomas Jefferson, essentially divides the United States into rectangles, measured in relation to lines known as Meridians and Base Lines.

 

Development lots are instinctively viewed as the two-dimensional surface of land visually representing a potential development parcel. Descriptions of a parcel typically refer to “a parcel of land X feet by Y feet” located in relation to an intersection or other identifiable landmark.

 

Once a parcel is “developed”, or designated for development, by construction of improvements on the land, it is natural to think of the parcel as being unavailable for further development (unless the existing improvements are to be demolished).

 

Classic examples of this are single story commercial buildings at prime commercial locations, a multi-deck parking garage or mid-rise building in a downtown development area, railroad tracks or spurs cutting across valuable urban land and, in some cases, roadways and alleys.

 

Each of these situations represent, potentially, under-utilization of valuable real estate. Finding a way to develop the “air” above these existing or planned improvements maximizes the economic utility of these parcels and can be like creating “money from thin air.”

 

The practice of finding ways to utilize the “space above” is often referred to as “air rights development”. Air rights development requires thinking in three dimensions, and requires serious design consideration and legal planning but, when land values are at a premium and zoning permits, the economic return may be dramatic.

 

Though often overlooked, virtually all of Chicago’s downtown business district is a “city in the air“. People tend to think of streets and street level entrances to buildings in the downtown Chicago “loop” as being at “ground level”. This is simply not the case. Most of what is thought of in the Chicago Loop as being at “ground level” is located 12 to 22 feet above the earth’s surface. This explains the vast network of “lower” streets and passageways in downtown Chicago, such as “Lower Wacker Drive”, “Lower Dearborn Street”, “Lower State Street”, etc. which most people seldom traverse. It also explains why, in 1992, the Chicago Loop business district was virtually shut down by “the Great Loop Flood of ’92”, but few people got wet or even saw any water as office and retail buildings were closed and workers were sent home because of “flooding”.

 

The point of these observations is to reveal that “development of air rights” is not new. It is also not “. . . some exotic legal manipulation of doubtful efficacy dreamed up by big city lawyers for use only in big cities”. Development of so-called “air rights” is little more than efficient use of a limited resource when use becomes economically feasible and beneficial.

 

WHAT ARE “AIR RIGHTS”?

“Air rights” are part of the “bundle of rights” constituting fee simple title to real estate. The term “air rights” generally refers to the right of the owner of fee simple title of a parcel of land to use the space above the land. If this right did not exist, it would not be possible to (more…)

Continue Reading →

DUE DILIGENCE CHECKLISTS for Commercial Real Estate Transactions

R. Kymn Harp Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

R. Kymn Harp
Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

 2016 Update:

Are you planning to purchase, finance, develop or redevelop any of the following types of commercial real estate in the USA?

  • Shopping Center
  • Office building
  • Large Multifamily/Apartments/Condominium Project
  • Sports and/or Entertainment Venue
  • Mixed-Use Commercial-Residential-Office
  • Parking Lot/Parking Garage
  • Retail Store
  • Lifestyle or Enclosed Mall
  • Restaurant/Banquet Facility
  • Intermodal logistics/distribution facility
  • Medical Building
  • Gas Station
  • Manufacturing facility
  • Pharmacy
  • Special Use facility
  • Air Rights parcel
  • Subterranean parcel
  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Other commercial (non-single family, non-farm) property

RSP_LogoHD (3)A KEY element of successfully investing in commercial real estate is performing an adequate Due Diligence Investigation prior to becoming legally bound to acquire or finance the property.  Conducting a Due Diligence Investigation is important not just to enable you to walk away from the transaction, if necessary, but even more importantly to enable you to discover obstacles and opportunities presented by the property that can be addressed prior to closing, to enable the transaction to proceed in a manner most beneficial to your overall objective. An adequate Due Diligence Investigation will assure awareness of all material facts relevant to the intended use or disposition of the property after closing. This is a critical point. The ultimate objective is not just to get to Closing – but rather to confirm that the property can be used or developed as intended after Closing.

The following checklists – while not all-inclusive – will help you conduct a focused and meaningful Due Diligence Investigation. (more…)

Continue Reading →

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…)

Continue Reading →

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

Continue Reading →

WANTED: REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER

MONEE, ILLINOIS IS IN SEARCH OF A COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER – AND WILL PROVIDE ECONOMIC INCENTIVES

This post is intended to serve two purposes:

  1. To give any interested commercial real estate developer a heads up that there is an opportunity in Monee, Illinois to obtain meaningful economic incentives as part of a public-private partnership with the Village of Monee;
  2. To help Monee, Illinois attract the commercial development it wants and needs – including particularly a grocery store.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-walking-shopping-center-image29466233Let me first say that I am not a real estate broker or real estate developer, I don’t own land in or near Monee, I don’t represent Monee, and I have no other specific connection to Monee.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS POST?

I do represent commercial real estate developers (mostly property turn-around specialists and redevelopers) and commercial real estate investors. Developers often tell me they are looking for development opportunities (more…)

Continue Reading →

IN PRAISE OF REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS – Let’s Do Lunch!

This article is being republished as a welcoming salutation to many of my long-lost Real Estate Developer friends.  You have been missed over the past several years. Call me.  Let’s do lunch!

RSP_LogoFull_2PMSDid I happen to mention I love Real Estate Developers? Not like I love my wife or my kids, or even my dog, but Real Estate Developers are definitely among my favorite people.

Think about it.

Real Estate Developers are like Gods. [Well, miniature gods, at least.] They create much of the physical world we inhabit. The homes and condominiums we live in. The grocery store and pharmacy down the street. The resorts and casinos and golf courses we enjoy for leisure. Restaurants. Shopping centers. Office buildings. Movie theaters. Truck terminals. Medical and surgical centers. Spas. Factories. Warehouses. Auditoriums. Parking garages. Hotels.

You name it; if its man-made, attached to dirt, and we can get inside it, a Real Estate Developer was probably involved. (more…)

Continue Reading →

Maximizing The Third Space – A Key ICSC RECon 2013 Takeaway

Questions abound about where our commercial real estate market is headed. As many suspect, where we were prior to the Great Recession is not where we are now, and not http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-hello-world-image12400061where we’re headed as we move forward. Things have changed. We have entered an era where the so-called “Third Space” will dominate commercial real estate development.

What is the “third space“? Urban planners describe it generally as the space designed for creative social interaction, which lies, figuratively, between home and the workplace.

From a purely economic standpoint, it is difficult to see how brick and mortar retailers in today’s marketplace can effectively compete with internet retailers not burdened with comparable fixed costs. Internet retailers have a huge advantage when it comes to convenience, accessibility, and price-competitiveness as compared to fixed location, brick and mortar retailers. Unlike the pre-2008 marketplace, today’s shoppers enjoy virtually limitless access to online goods and services. Online shopping is easy and convenient.

To remind ourselves, the commercial real estate industry began its skid in the summer of 2008, after the collapse of the sub-prime residential lending market in the Spring of 2007. The commercial real estate market experienced a virtual death knell following the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008.

With this backdrop, and the ubiquity of iPhones and other smartphones in society today, we sometimes forget that the very first iPhone was not even released to the public until June 29, 2007.  The first Android smartphone was not introduced until October 2008.  Twitter and text messaging were in their mere infancy in 2008 as the commercial real estate market crash occurred. Today they are the leading means by which the discretionary income-rich millennial generation (those born between about 1980 and 2000) socialize and communicate.

Yes, technology and our retail culture have changed dramatically while the commercial real estate market has been on hiatus over the past several years. What does that mean to commercial real estate investors and developers?  It means our developments have to change too.

The leading takeaway from ICSC RECON 2013 is the need for commercial real estate developers, retailers, lenders and urban planners to grasp the immense changes to our culture borne by the lightning-speed proliferation of social networking and technology.  Commercial  real estate developments, whether new or retooled, will need to create a reason for consumers to come to our commercial projects to shop and spend. To be successful, our projects will need to be fully integrated, media rich environments providing prospective customers with a compelling reason to come to live, work and play. They will need to provide an enticing third space between home and work for consumers to spend their time and money.

The current push in Congress to mandate collection and remittance of sales taxes on internet-based out-of-state sales may help state and local governments fill their coffers, but imposing this tax will likely do little to help brick and mortar retailers.The fact that online sales may be taxed to the same extent as brick and mortar based sales is not likely to dissuade online shopping.

Rather than begrudge the impact of internet-based shopping on brick and mortar retail, developers and retailers alike will need to wholeheartedly embrace technology to create an enticing, in-person experience that integrates online social networks with face-to-face social interaction and shopping. This is the challenge of our time for retail and commercial real estate development.

Meeting this challenge will require, first, that we grasp it, and, second, that we envision how to effectively integrate fundamental real estate development concepts with new and emerging technologies. To get to the desired bottom line, we will almost certainly need to understand and focus on the third space.

Thanks for listening,

Kymn

Continue Reading →

ICSC RECON 2013 UPDATE – Things Are Happening Now!

May 20, 2013. ICSC RECON UPDATE. Today was an exhausting but productive day. My Fitbit recorded nearly 20,000 steps, or roughly 8.75 miles covered. My feet hurt, so I believe it.

It was great to see friendly, familiar faces, from past and present – happy to be making deals again.  There is, for the first time in a very long time, an upbeat mood in the CRE industry, and an abundance of new construction and redevelopment projects underway.

I was interested to hear what community development directors from communities around the country had to say. To a large extent they are “open for business”, fully expecting to hear from developers seeking development incentives, and prepared to be of assistance.

Interestingly, some communities question whether development incentives should be necessary with development coming back. . . To which I have to respond: Really?

My reminder to communities is that (more…)

Continue Reading →
Skip to toolbar