Gibbons attorneys have played significant roles in major public and private infrastructure development projects that are critical to their respective regions, substantially affect their regional economies, and require familiarity with all aspects of a major development. Our representation encompasses a wide array of project-driven strategies and tasks, including advice and counsel on construction, property acquisition, development, environmental, and related critical negotiations for right-of-way acquisition; design and construction coordination agreements with utilities and third party governmental agencies and entities; insurance issues; and, most recently, property interest agreements and related instruments with various state and municipal agencies and utilities. We also handle complex litigation that often arises in the course of these matters.
Our attorneys understand the time critical nature of these types of projects and work with clients to ensure that the projects run smoothly, engage all relevant stakeholders appropriately, and are completed efficiently. For infrastructure projects of this size, we create comprehensive, collaborative workflow management systems and strategic operational procedures, all tailored to each specific client and project. These systems and procedures take into account the unique skill set of each attorney assigned to the project team and include engagement and management of professional relationships with the various vendors and consultants, such as other outside legal counsel, appraisers, engineering and environmental consultants, and other professionals with whom clients must coordinate over the course of their projects. On a given infrastructure project, these protocols might address, for example, the negotiated property acquisition process, including the pre-closing, closing, and post-closing phases; the potential use of eminent domain, as well as ongoing monitoring of acquisition status; third party and utility coordination agreement processes; the utility process; and other items critical to the project’s success.
Infrastructure Team Distinctions
The multidisciplinary team at Gibbons that handles major infrastructure projects comprises attorneys who are recognized in the leading industry client- and peer-review publications. For example, the firm’s Real Estate Law, Land Use & Zoning Law, Environmental Law, and Construction Law & Litigation teams have earned national rankings in Best Lawyers®, as well as regional rankings in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia, for the past several years. Best Lawyers has also listed various team members among its top ranked attorneys, including the 2018 “Lawyers of the Year” for both real estate litigation and land use and zoning law in the Newark, New Jersey region; the 2017 Newark “Lawyers of the Year” for both real estate and environmental law; and the 2017 Philadelphia “Lawyer of the Year” for construction litigation. Several attorneys are listed in the most recent editions of Super Lawyers (New Jersey), the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, or both. The projects handled by members of the Infrastructure Team are similarly lauded; for example, a major real estate acquisition and development project led by Gibbons was hailed as the New Jersey deal of the year by a leading developer trade association and as the national deal of the year by a leading development trade periodical.
Areas of Focus
Innovative Financing/Public-Private Partnerships ("P3")
Generally led by attorneys from our Corporate Department, P3 matters also often involve attorneys focusing on tax, public finance, government affairs, litigation, real estate, employment, collective bargaining, healthcare, construction, and environmental law, based on the given matter. We advise both governmental entities and private enterprises of all types, addressing sophisticated contracts and transactional arrangements in the private and governmental sectors involving complex issues, substantial federal and state regulation, and significant dollars. We have earned a high-profile reputation and trust across our core Mid-Atlantic practice region and have naturally become a go-to adviser on P3 transactions of all types.
Our substantial work in the area of public-private partnerships has included numerous projects in the following areas, among many others: transportation, including rail, waterways, and bridges; environmental/wetlands use, open space, and farmland preservation; state lease financing (commercial real estate); public finance; power/renewable energy finance; derivative securities transactions; racetracks, sports, and entertainment; state supported educational facilities, healthcare facilities, and housing financing; state secondary education; utilities/water; tax advantaged leveraged leasing; and privatizations.
Entitlements and Environmental Permitting
Gibbons has led development projects in almost 450 municipalities, including more than 50 pending, in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, and is recognized for its significant experience in zoning, planning, and permitting matters, with particular emphasis on public projects, as well as commercial, office, retail, and industrial uses. We work with some of the most highly respected and best-known engineering firms, architects, professional planners, landscape architects, traffic engineers, and environmental consultants in the region.
We are also experienced in real estate acquisition and development, including leasing, purchase and sale transactions, environmental compliance, and due diligence, and in obtaining wetlands, stream encroachment, highway access, and other permits from state and county agencies. Our attorneys regularly handle land use litigation matters in which objectors challenge approvals we have obtained or clients are aggrieved by board decisions. We also frequently appear before environmental agencies at all levels of government, county planning boards, and municipal construction departments in connection with permitting issues. While we seek to resolve issues at the initial level, we do appear before legislative boards and zoning boards of appeal, as well as in trial and appellate courts.
The firm has also worked with public entities in connection with federal, state, and local permitting and approval issues. We counsel clients through the regulatory process for the development and operation of large, complex projects that require multiple levels of government approval. Our firm represents clients before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), among other resource agencies. Due to the complex nature of the projects, our counseling and permitting engagements often involve a broad array of substantive legal areas in which our attorneys are well-versed, including wetlands, tidelands, waterfront development, riparian zones, flood hazard areas, threatened and endangered species, stormwater management, process safety and risk management, and community affairs. Our team is likewise engaged in counseling related to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for projects involving federal funding and approvals, and the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) for projects requiring state and municipal approvals. We also provide advice and counsel on the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) processes with the New York City Planning Department.
Transactional Real Estate and Property Acquisition
Buying, selling, leasing, and financing properties are the core activities of the transactional real estate group. The Transactional Team represents sellers, buyers, and developers of office buildings, industrial facilities, resort properties, hotels, shopping centers, and land and handles condominium developments and conversions. We conduct due diligence investigations in connection with property acquisitions. We also handle acquisitions of property through condemnation and eminent domain. The Team handles leases ranging from ground leases for development projects to office, industrial, and retail leases, on behalf of both landlords and tenants. Attorneys on the Team are also experienced in every kind of real estate financing transaction, from simple mortgage loans to the most complex, multi-property, multi-jurisdiction financings and tax-driven transactions, including sales/leasebacks and unconventional financings. Our Transactional attorneys are equally adept in handling real estate workouts and distressed assets, both debt and equity, representing lenders, borrowers, and purchasers.
In addition, our extensive experience in major development projects positions us to address similar issues that arise in the course of infrastructure projects. For instance, we are particularly well-suited to handle leases of retail space within airports, railway stations, transit-oriented developments, and major metropolitan mixed-use developments. Our Transactional Real Estate Team has decades of comprehensive experience handling a wide range of retail leases on behalf of landlords and renters of shopping center, mall, and related facilities. Gibbons is handling, for example, all aspects of a large, multi-phase development project in Jersey City, New Jersey designed to connect the city’s financial district and waterfront with the vibrant Grove Street historic area and transportation facilities. The project includes three residential towers with extensive ground-floor retail space, a hotel, and a 900-space parking garage, and the buildings interconnect to the Grove Street PATH Station, making it a cutting-edge urban transit development. The Gibbons team has helped the client secure financing, development approvals, and leases, among various other matters.
Gibbons works with owners, developers, design professionals, contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers on a wide range of construction projects, handling contract counseling, public procurement, insurance, and surety issues, among others, as well as all aspects of litigation and dispute resolution. We have recently worked on a multitude of infrastructure projects, including subway, bridge, and tunnel builds and rebuilds; commercial and residential properties, including components of transit-oriented developments; and marine-based structures, power plants, and other similar structures. They have involved all manner of project deliveries, including traditional design-bid-build, design-build, and public/private partnership (P3) delivery methods. Our Construction Law & Litigation attorneys collaborate closely with our Real Property and Environmental attorneys on numerous projects to ensure that all potential issues are addressed.
The Gibbons Corporate Department is a full-service business practice for all business entities, structures, and organizations. On a day-to-day basis, we provide our clients with commercial contract review, advice, drafting, negotiation, and execution in manufacturing, outsourcing, supply, distribution, service, employment, technology, and licensing. In the area of corporate governance, Gibbons regularly advises client entities, as well as their boards of directors, officers, shareholders, and others, on a wide range of issues. We frequently prepare bylaws, certificates of incorporation, amendments to both of these organizational documents, and policy statements, and we often review client corporate books and records to facilitate compliance and risk reduction.
Federal, State, and Other Funding Applications
Gibbons regularly assists clients in the pursuit of grants and loans through governmental programs. We have successfully advocated for and secured significant new funding by identifying and matching the appropriate governmental programs for specific infrastructure related projects, including new developments, infrastructure improvements, mass transit initiatives, and feasibility studies. We also work extensively on governmental transportation funding legislation to advance our clients’ positions and policy determinations that directly advance funding and/or approval for primary projects. For example, Gibbons represented public sector clients regarding federal stimulus/economic recovery legislation, as well as on matters relating to initial passage of – and then the potential reauthorization of – the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Our work included analyzing the evolving legislative status in the U.S. Congress, coordinating advocacy of our clients’ positions within the Congressional delegation, preparing required project request forms seeking funding, and counseling clients on strategic steps needed for successful pursuit of funds.
In each of the representations handled by our Public Finance Team, we pride ourselves not only on our handling of documentation but on being valued members of a larger team, helping to strategize creative financing techniques, timing, structure of the issuance, and other matters, in order to best achieve our client’s goals. Our public finance attorneys represent public authorities and other issuers in a broad range of transactions, including forward delivery transactions, variable and fixed rate obligations, demand bonds, pooled bonds, lease revenue bonds, credit enhanced (insured or letter of credit supported) obligations, and current and advanced refundings. As bond counsel, we have represented numerous public entities in their bond and note issuances, including various counties, municipal and regional authorities, municipalities, and school boards. The Team also serves as counsel to underwriters, credit enhancement issuers, trustees, and borrowers in tax-exempt transactions. In the last 20 years, we have represented investment banking firms as underwriters of approximately $8 billion of tax-exempt bonds.