Michael Sklaroff

Senior Counsel

Tel 215.864.8700
Fax 215.864.8999

Michael Sklaroff is former Chair of the Real Estate Department. His practice encompasses real estate development (corporate headquarters, office buildings, industrial facilities, port facilities, power centers, family entertainment centers, hotels, new town centers, condominium and other residential complexes, and cultural facilities); real property tax and eminent domain (pharmaceutical research and development facilities, power generating and transmission stations, refineries and fuel depots, corporate headquarters, manufacturing facilities, transportation and transmission facilities, rail corridors, multifamily housing, development parcels, outdoor advertising and telecommunications facilities, and shopping centers); zoning and land use (television, radio broadcasting, outdoor advertising and telecommunications, office, retail, commercial, suburban residential, parking, industrial parks, hospitals, hotels, museums, condominiums, university facilities, and urban mixed-use development); and serving as counsel to cultural institutions (orchestra, museum, and medical associations).

Michael planned, chaired, and moderated the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s programs "The Law of Historic Preservation" and "The Science of Land Use." As deputy executive director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in the early 1970's, he managed six departments comprising 170 employees. He served as Founding Chair of the Real Property Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and Chair of the Committee on Condemnation and Appraisals. He chairs the Development Workshop, Inc., a 501(c)(6) trade organization composed of developers, former planning directors, architects, appraisers, lawyers, and others dedicated to population growth, job creation and strengthening the tax base through development in the City of Philadelphia.

Michael started the movement to save the Dream Garden, the Maxfield Parrish/Louis C. Tiffany mural in Philadelphia's Curtis Building. He helped build the Sister Cities relationship between Philadelphia and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; taught technology transfer, real property, and corporate law in Russia under programs sponsored by USIA and USAID; and represented a Russian physics institute in the first licensing agreement to a U.S. company of gyrotron technology used in fusion research.

Representative Matters

  • Helped bring the first civil rights action in federal court to open the suburbs to multifamily housing and enforce the landmark zoning decision in Girsh Appeal 434 Pa. 237 (1970), and was part of the team that obtained site-specific relief, now a central part of Pennsylvania's land-use jurisprudence
  • Served as expert witness on the effect of the integration clause in an agreement of sale for a major commercial real estate transaction in 1726 Cherry Street Partnership v. Bell Atlantic Properties, Inc., Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, January Term, 1990, No. 2023, affirmed, 439 Pa. Super. 141, 653 A.2d 663 (1995), appeal denied 653 A.2d 663 (Pa. 1995)
  • Argued for the municipality in The Piper Group, Inc. v. Bedminster Twp. Bd. of Supervisors, 30 A.3d 1083, 2011 Pa. LEXIS 2333 (Pa. 2011), where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld an agricultural land preservation ordinance against a developer's curative amendment challenge and for the first time interpreted the 1988 provisions of the Municipalities Planning Code dealing with the municipal cure and the extent of site-specific relief

Other cases of note are:

  • Arter v. Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment, 916 A.2d 1222 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007), appeal denied, 934 A.2d 75 (Pa. 2007) (funeral home and crematorium not permitted in historic Greenwood Cemetery by variance, as accessory use or as modernization of legal nonconforming use)
  • One Meridian Partners, LLP v. Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment, 867 A.2d 706 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005) (reversed 300 percent bulk variance for high-rise condominium development)
  • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority v. Board of Revision of Taxes, 574 Pa. 707, 833 A.2d 710 (2003) (Commonwealth agency not entitled to real estate tax immunity for property leased to commercial tenants)
  • SCRUB v. Keystone Outdoor Advertising, No. 131 C.D. 2001, March 15, 2002, appeal denied, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, No. 225 EAL 2002, March 30, 2004 (sustained variances for eight outdoor advertising signs in least restricted industrial zone)
  • PECO Energy v. Board of Assessment Appeals, 138 Montg. Co. L.R. Part II 237 (2001) (taxing authorities outside the jurisdiction may not intervene in local tax appeals under Public Utility Realty Tax Act amendments)
  • School District of Philadelphia v. Tax Review Board to the Use of Realen Gateway Development Associates, L.P., 696 A.2d 906 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1997) (use and occupancy tax may not be imposed on public/private joint venture parking garage)
  • DeBotton v. Marple Twp., 689 F.Supp. 477 (E.D. Pa. 1988) (substantive due process claim stated in case arising out of exclusionary zoning of mobile home parks under the Civil Rights Act of 1871)
  • Ezy Parks v. Larson, 499 Pa. 615 (1982) (unlawful bidding of PennDOT parking lot leases stricken)
  • Sargo, II, Inc. v. City of Philadelphia, 488 F.Supp. 1045 (E.D. Pa. 1980) (condominium conversion moratorium)
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection v. Precision Tube Co., Inc., 358 A.2d 137 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1976) (PennDOT has burden of proving compliance with Article I, Section 27 -- the Environmental Bill of Rights -- in citizen's challenge to water obstruction permits in Wissahickon Creek)
  • Resident Advisory Board v. Tate, 329 F. Supp. 427 (E.D. Pa., 1971) (fair housing claim on behalf of public housing tenants)

The Ballard Spahr Real Estate Department was featured in an article in The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. In this editorial interview, Michael describes the strategic evolution of the Ballard Spahr real estate practice and defines the firm's vision for future growth. Please click here to read “A Thoughtful Look at Building a Diversified Real Estate Practice.” Additionally, the department was featured in a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer titled "With the Power to Build."

Judicial Clerkships

Hon. Joseph S. Lord III, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Professional Activities

American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL), Member

College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Fellow

Counselors of Real Estate, Member

Development Workshop, Inc., Chair, 2008-present

Philadelphia Bar Association, Founding Chair, Real Property Section
Philadelphia Bar Association, Former Chair, Committee on Condemnation and Appraisals

Philadelphia Historical Commission, Chair, September 2002 to February 2008
(Member, 1996 to 2008)

Taught technology transfer, real property, and corporate law in Russia under programs sponsored by USIA and USAID

Recognition & Accomplishments

The Best Lawyers in America, real estate law, real estate litigation, 1993-2021; "Lawyer of the Year," Litigation - Real Estate (Philadelphia), 2012, 2019

2019 Judicial AV Preeminent Rating, Martindale-Hubbell

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award, Legal Intelligencer

2015 Harris Ominsky Award, Philadelphia Bar Association

Chambers USA, real estate law and real estate: zoning/land use law (Pennsylvania), highest ranking (band one) 2003-2020

The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers Real Estate 2013

The International Who's Who of Real Estate Lawyers

The Legal 500 US, real estate and construction – real estate, 2011-2012


"Economic Force Majeure: The Conceivable and the Foreseeable," a chapter in The ACREL Papers—Fall 2011, American Law Institute – American Bar Association, Fall 2011

"The Valuation of Corridors in Eminent Domain: The Chester Valley Branch," CRE Real Estate Issues, Winter 2005-2006

Speaking Engagements

"Historic Preservation Law: Obligations and Opportunities," Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE, Philadelphia, November 30, 2018

"Historic Pine Street Passive House Meets the Environmental Bill of Rights," panelist, AIA Forum on Architecture and Design, October 4, 2018

"Historic Pine Street Passive House Meets the Environmental Bill of Rights," panelist, Green Building United 2018 Sustainability Symposium, May 4, 2018

American Planning Association, Pennsylvania Chapter, How to be an Expert Witness, moderator, 2014

American Planning Association, Pennsylvania Chapter, Southeast Section, How to be an Expert Witness, moderator

Ballard Spahr Breakfast Briefings, panelist and author, Pennsylvania Environmental Right Amendment: The Legacy of Robinson Twp. v. Commonwealth, 2014

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, The Supreme Court's Decision in Robinson Township and the Future of Zoning in the Commonwealth, panelist, "More than an Oil and Gas Decision," 2014

Ballard Spahr Breakfast Briefings, panelist and author, Beyond Zoning: Philadelphia's Other New Land Use Regulations, 2013

Ballard Spahr Breakfast Briefings, panelist and author, The New Philadelphia Zoning Code—As-of-Right Permits, Base Zoning Districts, and the Code's Structure, 2012

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Bench-Bar Annual Conference, author and panelist, The Philadelphia Zoning Code, 2012

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Overview of the New Philadelphia Zoning Code, author and panelist, "Variances, Special Exceptions and the Process Before the Zoning Board," 2012

Course presenter and author, "Economic Force Majeure: The 'Conceivable' May Not Be 'Foreseeable'," Creative Structures for Dynamic Markets: The Rebirth of Opportunities in the City of Brotherly Love, ACREL program, Philadelphia, October 22, 2011

"Shoring up the Delaware River Waterfront," interview with "Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane" on WHYY, Philadelphia's NPR station, June 23, 2011

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Zoning in Philadelphia, author and panelist, "Art Commission, Fairmount Park Commission and Historical Commission," 2010

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Navigating Through the Maze:  Helping Real Estate Clients Steer Through the City of Philadelphia's Approval Process, author and panelist, "Philadelphia Art Commission," Fairmount Park Commission," "Historical Commission" and "Tax Review Board," 2007

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Winning Zoning Cases in Philadelphia, author and panelist, "Appeals to the Court of Common Pleas and Higher Appellate Courts," 2006

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Federalization of Land Use, author and panelist, "Telecommunications," 2002

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, 2001 Municipal Law Colloquium, author and panelist, "Telecommunications," 2001

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, The Science of Land Use, author and panelist, "Taking Care of Experts" and "Expert testimony: Valley View and Valueless," 2001

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, The Municipalities Planning Code, author and panelist, "The Protestants' View:  Opportunities in the Zoning Process Under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code", 1998

Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Locally Unpopular Land Uses, panelist, 1996

University of Pennsylvania Law School (LL.B., magna cum laude, 1967)
Editor, University of Pennsylvania Law Review
Member, Order of the Coif

Columbia College (A.B. 1964)