rise to every real estate challenge
Developers, commercial property owners, and investors turn to Lerch Early’s “dirt lawyers” when they need to buy, sell, lease, or develop commercial real estate in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. We help clients get to closing with the best mix of price, terms, and timelines essential to their core real estate and business strategies.
Our experienced attorneys negotiate all aspects of complex commercial real estate transactions from the ground up, such as forming a holding company before acquiring a property, to minimizing the tax consequences of an eventual sale of the property. These include drafting and negotiating entity formation documents, purchase and sales agreements, development agreements, financing documents, construction contracts, reciprocal easement agreements and leases. National and regional developers, family-owned real estate development companies, institutions with substantial real estate assets, and entrepreneurial businesses rely on our real estate attorneys to help them make the best real estate deals. Our real estate clients include The JBG Companies, The Tower Companies, Lee Development Group, Maisel Development, Howard University, and other institutional and entrepreneurial companies throughout the region.
Our clients sometimes joke that we should convey with their property— as we “run with the land.” Often after a sale, the new purchaser retains us because of our in-depth knowledge of the property or project. Many clients have worked with us for decades as we not only know the law, but we know their businesses. Throughout the transaction, our focus is on how to complete a deal within the context of the client’s overall business plan.
Ann Marie Mehlert
Lerch Early serves as primary outside real estate counsel to Howard University. For the past several years, the now 150 year old University has been leveraging certain of its Washington, DC real estate assets to improve the campus environment and the experience of its most valuable assets – the students, faculty and staff of the University.
In 2016-2017, Lerch Early attorneys worked with the University’s internal legal and finance teams and its outside real estate advisor, Alvarez and Marsal, to structure a unique arrangement among Howard Dormitory Holdings 1, LLC, a wholly-owned and title-holding company of Howard University, and Howard University (collectively, the “University Parties”) and Corvias Campus Living, LLC (“Corvias”). Lerch Early represented the University Parties in drafting and negotiating the concessionaire, project management and residential life agreements, entity formation agreements, construction contracts, financing documents, and other operative agreements in connection with the transaction, as well as assisting the University Parties in addressing and resolving numerous legal and business issues associated with the transaction.
The innovative 40-year partnership among the University Parties and Corvias raised $144 million, a portion of which will fund the renovation and modernization of the Howard Towers, will provide for the ongoing management of the Howard Towers and two additional residence halls, and will create, for the long-term, a sizable reserve fund for future capital expenses.
The senior living subsidiary of Adventist HealthCare a number of its subsidiaries decided to sell six skilled nursing facilities. The sale to Genesis HealthCare involved multiple owners and jurisdictions.
Adventist HealthCare owned five of the facilities and one was jointly owned by Frederick Memorial Hospital. Four of the facilities were located in Montgomery County, and the remaining two were located in Prince George's County and Frederick County. The multi-million dollar transaction, which took the better part of a year to complete, involved the sale and lease of real estate, the sale of the ongoing business operations of the nursing facilities, defeasance of bond financing, and various ancillary issues. Lerch Early attorneys worked closely with in-house counsel and a number of other representatives of Adventist HealthCare to negotiate the sales contracts, satisfy due diligence requirements, and successfully complete the transfer.
Adventist HealthCare now is able to focus care for the community’s senior population through its various programs, partnerships and entities.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faced an unexpected property tax assessment when the Maryland Tax Court ruled that a Montgomery County apartment complex where it housed religious workers no longer qualified for the property tax exemption it had held for nearly 30 years.
The Tax Court adopted the state’s narrow (and arguably discriminatory) definitional approach that excluded the purposes for which the client church’s properties were being used to deny the exemption. We demonstrated to the Montgomery County Circuit Court and then to the Maryland Court of Appeals that the apartment complex qualifies as a “convent,” because the church uses the properties exclusively to house a community of people who live together, follow strict religious vows, and devote themselves full-time to religious work, thus meeting the statutory definition and avoiding discrimination in favor of particular denominations allowing only “nuns” to live in properties called “convents” as a doctrinal matter.
The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld and reinstated our client’s tax exemption. This allowed the church to continue housing visiting religious workers who leave their homes and families to devote themselves to a two-year commitment to ministry in the temple.