Project Development

We know how important time and budget are to the success of a project. At Phillips Lytle, we drive projects and developments to completion as soon as possible, giving our clients greater return on their investment. We understand that time really is money, and that the sooner you can begin your operations, or put your developments on the market, the better your return will be.

We move projects along more quickly and more economically than other law firms, because we’ve been practicing for more than 185 years. It’s this experience, paired with the strong community ties we’ve forged in both the public and private sectors, that gives us a competitive edge in ensuring your deadline is reached successfully.

We work with in-house development teams as well as outside contractors and consultants. Moreover, our attorneys know which development agencies are best suited for your project, what tax incentives are available, and where to turn for financial assistance. We understand the myriad laws, regulations and ordinances that will confront your project, so we can anticipate trouble spots before they become problems.

At Phillips Lytle, we start by asking questions. We want to understand why you are developing your project. We then customize a Project Development Team comprised of attorneys with expertise in the areas of law your project demands. They look at your venture from start to finish and map out the most efficient route to completion. They then identify potential obstacles and ways to overcome them.

Phillips Lytle’s Project Development Team quickly assembles skilled professionals who offer the specific expertise your project requires. If your venture calls for the acquisition of property, the rezoning of property, the hiring of numerous employees or aggressive tax abatements, we’ll assemble a team of attorneys with expertise in real estate development, land use, and labor or tax, for example. Team members then collaborate to ensure that any legislative, regulatory or political hurdles are cleared. This service keeps your project on course from a legal standpoint and helps ensure that your goals are reached in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Our areas of Project Development expertise include:


Phillips Lytle has more than 185 years of experience rapidly bringing companies and builders to market. From real estate, tax, and environmental law to land use and zoning, government relations, and commercial finance, we have an extensive knowledge base and a track record of success, which is why companies looking to bring their project to fruition fast and economically choose Phillips Lytle.


Our nationally recognized Real Estate attorneys represent sellers, buyers, property owners, developers, tenants, lenders and borrowers in virtually every type of real property-related matter. Our clients include institutional lenders, large corporations, REITs, private developers, public utilities, municipalities and individuals in connection with large and small commercial, industrial, retail and residential projects.


Our Real Estate attorneys review, draft and negotiate commercial leases for property owners and tenants at companies of all sizes. We have the skills to draft and successfully negotiate agreements that achieve your business goals.


Phillips Lytle’s Real Estate attorneys draft and negotiate purchase and sale agreements for buyers and sellers of all types of commercial real property. When necessary, we also review and handle title and zoning issues, and work with the firm’s Environmental attorneys to identify and quantify environmental risks. With our proactive approach, we are able to anticipate roadblocks that may stall or slow your project.


Our attorneys structure, negotiate and close mortgage transactions on behalf of property owners, developers and lenders. These transactions include construction loans, permanent loans, multi-family financing, affordable housing and tax credit financing, all types of tax-exempt and taxable industrial revenue bonds, the sale and hypothecation of timeshare loans and mortgage warehouse lending, and the workout and restructuring of all types of real estate loans.


We represent property owners and municipalities in litigation involving the determination of the fair market value of real property for ad valorem tax purposes, eminent domain and condemnation proceedings. We represent owners of large industrial properties, commercial properties, apartment buildings and parking garages, as well as individual homeowners.


Our attorneys assist developers in selecting the most appropriate business structure for their project. We consider the tax consequences, debt and equity financing plans, and the desired management structure to determine whether a C-corporation, S-corporation, limited partnership, limited liability company, complex shareholder agreement or other entity is most suitable. We also regularly tap our securities law expertise to help our developer clients raise equity.


Phillips Lytle’s Tax attorneys advise and represent clients in all aspects of New York State and federal tax laws, as well as in tax-related matters. We advise clients on the tax issues and consequences associated with mergers and acquisitions, partnerships and joint ventures, limited liability companies, real estate investments, REITs, S-corporations and financing transactions, including qualified and non-qualified deferred compensation agreements, as well as employee welfare benefits.


Our Environment attorneys are highly experienced in all areas of environmental law, including land use and zoning, brownfield redevelopment, due diligence, impact reviews and compliance with environmental statutes and regulations.


We are recognized for our leading Land Use & Zoning Practice. Our attorneys have appeared before hundreds of agencies for important land use approval and litigation matters. We have assisted a variety of clients, from local business owners and developers to FORTUNE 500 companies, with site plan reviews; special, restricted and conditional use permits; area and use variances; rezoning; and cluster and planned unit developments. We expedite complex development matters involving numerous permits or approvals from many regulatory agencies and, when necessary, responsibly address community opposition.


We help clients capitalize on the most advantageous local, state and federal tax incentive packages available for their development or relocation projects. As a Red Book firm in Public Finance, we offer counseling in all aspects of bond issues and other public finance transactions.


One of the key benefits under the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program is significant tax credits available to brownfield redevelopers.

We have significant experience in maximizing and capturing the value of available tax credits for remedial costs and other costs related to site redevelopment. We work with our Tax, Environment, and Project Development attorneys to structure the transaction with the goals of achieving the greatest speed to market and maximizing credits.

We have assisted numerous clients from program application through completion of the process to maximize the credits to which they are entitled.


Phillips Lytle has unique insight into the variance process as it relates to building and other related codes. Often times, particularly for large, complex projects, especially those with innovative designs, it is very difficult and costly to meet all code requirements. This is where the code variance process can be a significant benefit. We are uniquely positioned to assist thanks, in part, to a member of our Real Estate Development Team serving as a member of one of New York’s Boards of Review, which are tasked with reviewing variance requests across the State and appearances before multiple Boards of Review across the State.


Attorneys at Phillips Lytle join forces with a wide range of key figures in federal, state, municipal and economic development agencies to formulate innovative solutions for our clients’ myriad development and relocation goals. Our close working relationships with these officials keep our attorneys aware of existing or pending legislation, as well as political issues that could impact a client’s plans, enabling us to provide invaluable assistance on time-sensitive projects.


Attorneys on our Banking & Financial Services Team structure, negotiate and close complex financial transactions on behalf of borrowers and lenders. Our work includes revolving and term credit facilities, asset-based loans, letters of credit, acquisition loans, public and private debt offerings, trade finance and loan restructurings.


Phillips Lytle’s Labor & Employment attorneys identify the many state and federal labor and employment laws that apply to your project and then help businesses set up compliance programs. Our services range from assisting with employee handbooks to representing businesses before governmental agencies on labor and employment issues. If a business has a labor or employment issue, our attorneys have the experience to provide whatever assistance is needed.


We assist clients with consular visa proceedings, border issues involving admission to the United States, and litigation of immigration matters at the administrative hearing and federal district court levels. Our Immigration attorneys guide numerous Phillips Lytle clients in preparing and filing all employment-based applications, including H-1B (specialty occupations), L-1 (intracompany transferees) and TN (Trade NAFTA professionals) applications, as well as applications for lawful permanent resident status (green cards).


Over the years, Phillips Lytle has facilitated numerous high-profile development projects. Examples of our work in this area:

  • Represented the City of Buffalo in SEQR and land use matters, including segmentation findings related to a Native American casino. We defended the City in a subsequent Article 78 challenge by community opponents and prevented the casino from being built outside of the City’s borders.
  • Provided the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation with environmental and real estate counsel for a $500+ million mixed-use project involving the redevelopment of waterfront property in Upstate New York.
  • Provided Empire State Development with real estate, land use, construction and environmental legal services for the groundbreaking Midtown Plaza project in Rochester, New York.
  • Represented Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency in all legal matters surrounding the environmental reclamation and development of nearly 50 acres of brownfields property on Glen Cove Creek.
  • Represented the Harlem Community Development Corporation as the fee owner in the redevelopment of the historic Victoria Theatre on 125th Street in Harlem.
  • Represented a sports-licensed headwear company in its establishment of a world headquarters in Upstate New York. Matters included developer/contractor selection, site acquisition, project financing, and obtaining Empire Zone status and other incentives for our client.
  • Represented a national steel parts supplier in a facility conversion and equipping project. Matters included site acquisition, project financing, and obtaining Empire Zone and other incentives for our client.
  • Created the first vertical planned unit development in New York State, the first cooperative leasehold marina in Western New York, and one of the first timeshare projects in New York State.
  • Helped convert an inactive hazardous waste site into a modern manufacturing facility.
  • Obtained prompt governmental approvals for nearly 300 projects from more than 150 separate communities across the New York State, including manufacturing plant expansions, telecommunications facilities, residential projects, office buildings and retail operations, many of which were initially the subject of significant community opposition.
  • Actively involved in a large waterfront redevelopment initiative on Long Island’s North Shore that is now regarded as a model of public-private partnership. Our involvement with this 46-acre Superfund site also included project structuring, phased condemnation of the site, a review and change of zoning, and a complex sale to a third-party developer.
  • Helped a national gas and convenience store company resume construction on a project in Buffalo, NY that was stalled for nearly three years, approximately 120 days after adding Phillips Lytle to its project development team. We also secured the required site plan approval and zoning variances within 90 days and quickly settled a pending neighborhood lawsuit.
  • Acted as lead attorneys for an innovative redevelopment of a former hotel site in Nassau County for use as low-income housing. The project involved zoning changes and other municipal approvals. The developer received Section 8 project-based vouchers and low-income housing tax credits. In addition, the project qualified for the issuance of 80/20 triple tax-free municipal bonds, as well as an innovative payment in lieu of taxes program. This financing package served to meet the municipality’s goal of low-income housing and afforded the developer a bankable project.
  • Represented a partnership between a prominent Tribeca architect and a Manhattan developer that involved the acquisition of a block front in the Tribeca section of Manhattan, NY and its conversion to luxury condominiums. Our team assisted with the formation of a joint venture, acquisition and assemblage of several parcels, representation of the borrower in obtaining construction financing and negotiation of construction contracts. We continued representation of the developer through the myriad of issues and obstacles associated with New York City real estate development, including claims to title and disputes with contractors.
  • Acted as lead counsel to the sponsor of one of the first residential health care communities of its kind in New York State in connection with the successful design, construction, permitting, financing and operation of the facility.
  • Represented an upscale community in defending an Environmental Impact Review involving a planned residential development slated for approximately 200 acres of agriculturally zoned land.
  • Represented a city in Central New York in the formation of a limited liability company in connection with the acquisition of a commercial watercraft. The firm addressed structuring and tax issues associated with the formation of the entity, which required familiarity with the New York Transportation Corporation Law. Despite extreme time constraints due to a foreclosure auction involving this watercraft, we were able to research, identify and structure the company within the timeframe necessary to make the acquisition.
  • Acted as lead attorneys for a wind farm development on the site of a former steel mill along Lake Erie. We completed the SEQR process for this project and obtained all necessary zoning approvals in less than 60 days.

In addition to the examples above, our Project Development Team is actively involved in the following:

  • Helping clients capitalize on the most advantageous incentive packages, programs and options for their development projects. These include IDA tax incentive products, state and federal grant programs, local and federal revolving loan funds, adaptive reuse incentives, Empire Zones, foreign trade zones, export working capital programs, export insurance and the Brownfield Cleanup Program.
  • Handling construction defect cases involving sewer line damage, concrete failure, parking lot failure, defective retaining walls, defective roofing and roof systems, and architectural and engineering malpractice.
  • Representing lenders and developers in several major downtown and waterfront development projects in Western New York.
Practice Area Icon: Project Development