Zoning and Land Use

A successful real estate project begins with a solid foundation. We understand how local ordinances intersect with state and federal laws, from subdivision requirements to environmental permitting, and use our knowledge to obtain all necessary permits and approvals for a project. We have decades of experience steering clients around potential obstacles and through the often-complex maze of local requirements.

Our work does not end with obtaining needed approvals. Members of our team who litigate appeals of zoning permits excel at defending approvals against legal challenges that might otherwise scuttle a project. We are familiar with the roadblocks that may arise during the initial phases of a project and are adept at guiding a project successfully beyond the blueprint stage. 


Higher Education Matters

  • Represented a national research developer in obtaining significant land use approvals for the development of two high-rise buildings comprising 900,000 rentable square feet for academic, lab and office used in the University City section of Philadelphia. The project involved a partnership with a local university, a 32,000 square for public plaza, the dedication of several new streets, and the city’s first zoning lot declaration agreement covering multiple parcels separated by public streets. The project is the only land assemblage in the city where development rights can freely be aggregated and allocated over public streets.
  • Represented an Ivy League institution and its developer in obtaining approvals to demolish a building on the local historic register and construct a 120-unit graduate student housing project in Philadelphia, PA. The project required extensive zoning variance relief, demolish approvals and included countless evidentiary hearings and high-profile oral arguments. One approval—a financial hardship application under the City’s preservation ordinance—was a case of first impression for Commonwealth Court and was one of the most followed zoning and historic preservation fights of the last decade.

Industrial Matters

  • Represent a developer of a 260-acre redevelopment project in the Port Covington section of Baltimore, MD. The project will require investment of $6.9 billion over 25 years, including a $660 million tax increment financing (TIF) project. We are handling all legal aspects of the project including land use approvals and a groundbreaking community benefits agreement with the City of Baltimore. When completed, the project will include offices, residences, retail, and extensive public amenities.
  • Represent a national developer in what will be one of the largest multi-modal distribution centers in the country. The site is serviced by two rail yards, a marine terminal and accessed by two interstate highways on a total of 1,300 acres – the largest land assemblage in Philadelphia, PA. When completed the project will include 15 million square feet of rentable space. To date, we have successfully obtained legislative and administrative approvals for miles of public streets and public utility dedications—largest ever for the city. We are performing all the land use pacts and general development work.

Multi-Family Matters

  • Represented joint venture in obtaining zoning and land use approvals for a 30-story, 427,000 square-foot student housing project with 420 dwelling units in the University City section of Philadelphia. At its opening, the project was the largest multi-family building in the city.
  • Represented a large institutional multi-family developer in obtaining the property rights necessary to construct a fully-integrated, 31-story residential addition to an existing hotel in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia, PA. Our lawyers created the condominium documents to allow for the mixed use project and the necessary development agreements, and we obtained as-of-right zoning approval for the project. We have successfully defended the zoning approvals from appeals filed by neighbors in the courts.

Special Purpose Matters

  • Represented a major league sports team in Philadelphia, PA in obtaining land use approvals for several significant modifications to its major league ballpark, including new restaurants and social spaces. Working with City officials, we obtained the approvals for the hardened perimeter that included significant design and landscaping features so as not to detract from the fan experience.
  • Represent client in the redevelopment and leasing of property in Mount Laurel, N.J. This is the second phase of the project and includes additional zoning changes that need to be negotiated with the municipality, acquisition of a former gas station property with environmental contamination in needs of remediation, and land development approvals for the shopping, service uses, and restaurant.