Real Estate and Land Use
My work in real estate spans both the public and private sectors. Working with units of local government, along with state and federal agencies on both regulatory compliance and grant eligibility, has given me a unique insight into how to bring a project to successful fruition. My real estate experience covers the full scope of a real property development lifecycle.
- I actively engage in site selection processes and related due-diligence, including environmental assessment, title review, resolution of adverse title claims and related matters. I have successfully mediated cases involving adverse title claims, and have also effectively prosecuted condemnation and eminent domain cases where required to obtain an interest in property.
- My clients have benefitted from annexation and development agreements that have spanned tens of thousands of acres of private and public development, including thousands of homes, millions of square feet of commercial and industrial development, and innovative mixed-use and planned-unit-development sites. In addition, I have successfully litigated cases relating to the validity or enforceability of various zoning designations, the enforceability of zoning provisions and development restrictions within annexation and development agreements, and the impact of boundary line agreements between municipalities. I have crafted successful and defensible legal processes to bring properties through the act of zoning and entitlement, and have subsequently successfully defended those projects against legal challenges.
- Working with my clients, private lenders, and public bodies, I devise unique financing methodologies to cover the costs associated with site acquisition, planning, site improvements and building construction activities. Because of my work on the private and public side of transactions, I am able to uniquely leverage the strengths of private lending and public grants/funding/loans to enable projects to be successfully funded, including devising a first of its kind financing methodology to utilize tax increment financing (TIF) district public funds, secured by a first lien mortgage interest, to serve as funding for site acquisition, demolition and pre-construction efforts prior to securing private bridge loan and ultimate project financing. This process made use of available public resources and enabled a project to proceed forward on a greatly expedited timeline, while mitigating risks for both the public and private partners. I have also made use of public and private resources to fund necessary environmental remediation and to fund the cost of public infrastructure, including projects that made use of grant funding, recapture and other similar tools to offset the cost of required infrastructure improvements or oversizing.
- With my governmental experience, I have prepared enterprise zone agreements, performed the assessment and eligibility studies required to create tax increment financing districts, utilized special service areas and special assessment areas, and a host of other governmental finance tools to support development within the communities I service.
- The work that goes into a real estate development project cannot be completed without the collaboration of a team of professionals, including engineers, land planners, architects and others. My services include coordination of those professional services, as well as preparation of professional service agreements with such parties to fully document the required work and cost thereof. Again, this is an area where my services on both sides of the table, representing public bodies, private land developers and professional engineering and service firms enables me to have a comprehensive understanding of the transaction from all sides, so that agreements are complete, adequately detailed, and include all tasks required for project success. Having litigated and mediated cases arising out of design and construction related defects and accidents, my agreements have a particular attention to detail with regard to assessing risk of loss, indemnification, insurance coverage and related topics.
- With entitled property and a set of plans, a project is ready for construction. I have negotiated and documented agreements relating to project construction in nearly every delivery method possible. Successful project delivery methods I have used include design-build, general contractor, construction manager, fixed fee, cost-plus, and owner-managed processes. I have lead both public and private projects and have broken ground on innovative approaches to creating a project team that shares a common vision for success. I have drafted the framework for projects including traditional approaches to liability, as well as projects involving owner-provided insurance coverage. My work has included traditional forms of development, as well as LEED-certified projects that are aimed at environmental sustainability and long-term efficiency.
- Even the best-laid plans can face challenges. In my varied roles, I have also lead the teams that have explored the reason for project-related issues, allocating responsibility both to design defects and construction failures and seeking appropriate redress and remediation. I have used negotiation, mediation and litigation to compel appropriate resolutions that were beneficial to my clients. This experience has also given me a unique insight into modeling projects with supervision that has experience in determining practical constructability of projects, so as to avoid conflicts before they occur.
- In the case of failed developments, I have experience litigating contractor’s liens, public fund claims, and claims against various forms of performance security. In addition, I have pursued claims against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for wrongfully denying a sight draft tendered to draw on an irrevocable letter of credit used as subdivision performance security, in a case where the FDIC took over a failing bank. My litigation experience, and creativity, are both vast.
- My experience with project financing and funding extends into the process of managing and overseeing contractor payouts, including review of lien waivers, utilization of third party processing firms, review of contractor and materialman statements, and where required, compliance with local, state or federal regulations with regard to prevailing wages. I serve as an effective conduit for information and collaboration between financiers, project owner, and contractors.
- When a project is successfully under construction or redevelopment, I have extensive experience negotiating tenant lease and occupancy agreements, tenant build-out agreements and property sale or transfer agreements. That experience includes use of sales tax and TIF proceeds to fund tenant improvements. My background in negotiation has given me the tools to effectively come to appropriate lease terms, and to prepare consensus-based documents that clearly describe the transaction to be undertaken. My governmental work has also made me uniquely qualified in negotiating complex regulatory requirements, including local licensure or registration requirements applicable to highly regulated businesses and industries.
- Because my work spans both new development and redevelopment, and new construction as well as the restoration and reuse of historic structures, I have a nuanced understanding of building and occupancy codes, and the ability to be conversant and informed as to the challenges that any given project faces. This means that I can be a more effective liaison for my client, and be able to talk to contractors and design professionals in terms that all understand.
- Whether making use of public or private funds, careful attention has to be paid to compliance with regulatory requirements. I have successfully defended my clients against Internal Revenue Service audits of the use of special service area backed, tax-advantaged bonds issued to pay the costs associated with public subdivision improvements, resulting in a clean audit for my client and continuing availability of this important development tool.
- With experience both in personal injury and insurance defense work, I have a full understanding of property related liabilities and the ability to quickly identify and mitigate risk, while analyzing and appraising actual losses.
- I have developed and implemented successful document management systems to track development related deadlines, lease and insurance renewal dates and similar time-based or occurrence-based requirements.
- Based on my extensive experience in real estate development and related work, the American Bar Association solicited me to write a book on the topic, which is currently in print. Foundations of Sustainable Development: Law, Regulation and Planning. ISBN 978-1-61438-325-3. (American Bar Association, 2012).
Frieders Law, LLC
P.O. Box 1009
St. Charles, IL 60174