Real Estate

If you stop to look at the Bay Area’s most celebrated buildings and public spaces, there’s a good chance you’re seeing a project that Coblentz helped bring to life. We have built a reputation as the “go to” firm in California for both high profile projects as well as nuts-and-bolts real estate counsel.

Our firm’s deepest roots are in real estate law, and the individual attorneys in our practice are the most skilled, experienced, and innovative in the field. Collectively—and through collaboration with the firm’s other practices—we provide clients with valuable counsel on a full spectrum of real estate matters.

We’re particularly experienced in high profile, complex transactions such as our award-winning work for the new 68,000-seat NFL stadium for the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, the Exploratorium’s new world-class museum on the San Francisco waterfront, the San Francisco Giants’ 43,000-seat ballpark and the adjacent 300-acre, mixed-use Mission Bay Project in San Francisco.

But we don’t only take on the area’s biggest and most visible real estate developments. Our attorneys handle the day-to-day real estate transactions for many of the Bay Area’s premier companies, such as California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), eBay, Equity Office, Lincoln Property Company, Pacific Gas and Electric, The Carlyle Group, TMG Partners, and UBS Realty Investors.

In fact, it is our comprehensive approach to real estate that really differentiates Coblentz. Nowhere else will you find land use attorneys who are also great real estate counsel or seasoned real estate lawyers who also do great public-private partnership work. This crossover of talent and expertise ensures that every land use decision is creative, thoughtful, and shaped by the "next step"—whether it's financing, additional equity investment, construction, or  the challenges of asset operation.

Our many accomplishments have been recognized by both our peers and industry leaders time and again.  Our attorneys have been awarded with the industry’s highest honors, including the Real Estate Law “Lawyer of the Year” (2016), the Litigation - Land Use & Zoning "Lawyer of the Year" (2014) and the Litigation - Real Estate "Lawyer of the Year" (2012) in San Francisco by The Best Lawyers in America©; the National Real Estate Lawyer of the Year: Women in Law Award by Chambers USA (2013); and as the Dealmaker of the Year by the Daily Journal (2011).

Our client projects have been recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as "Real Estate Deals of the Year" consecutively for the last ten years.

Land Use

Our attorneys’ experience in successfully guiding clients through complex approval processes in land use matters is unsurpassed. Our projects range from small conversions or rehabilitation of existing—and sometimes historic—buildings to new large-scale mixed use developments involving hundreds of thousands of square feet of office uses, thousands of residential units, hotels, light industrial uses, and major single and multiple user retail facilities, as well as single users within a large mixed use project.

We know firsthand the importance of staying up-to-date on proposed legal and policy changes that impact development and operation of real estate. This ability to "see around corners" is especially critical in the complex and dynamic land use regulatory environment. In practicing before almost every type of Northern California land use agency, including city councils, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and the State Lands Commission, we have represented clients in securing development approvals for projects throughout the state, including:

  • The Tejon Ranch conservation and land use deal that preserved nearly 90% of the 270,000-acre parcel;
  • California Pacific Medical Center’s $2.5 billion, five-campus rebuilding project;
  • California Academy of Sciences’ acclaimed new LEED platinum-certified building in Golden Gate Park;
  • Millennium Partners’ 1.1 million square foot residential high-rise in San Francisco;
  • PG&E’s Land Stewardship Program, which included permanent conservation of 144,000 acres of watershed lands throughout California;
  • Acquisition, site assembly, and entitlement for Forest City Development’s 1.5 million square foot retail and entertainment complex for Emporium/Bloomingdale’s;
  • Development of Lahontan, a 740 acre residential community and private golf club near Truckee, California.

Leasing

Our clients receive value not just from the land and the structures they own, but, just as importantly, from the leases they hold. We work to protect and enhance the value of a landlord's assets no matter the market—boom, bust, or somewhere in between. We have the experience to know which lease provisions impact the value of the real estate when it is time to sell or refinance.

For our tenant clients, we work to understand their business needs so we can focus on minimizing potential risks if challenges and issues, such as a business sale, expansion, downsizing, or earthquake, arise.

We've recently represented clients in several complex leasing arrangements, including

  • California Flower Market, formerly the San Francisco Flower Mart, in its build-to-suit lease of a new $80 million retail and distribution center that, once constructed, will consist of 115,000 square foot market warehouse space with 45,000 square feet of related retail and 150 parking spaces for flower market tenants and customers;
  • An affiliate of The Carlyle Group in its lease to Google, Inc. of a four-story office building in Mountain View;
  • An affiliate of Merlone Geier Partners in its 400,000 square foot office lease to LinkedIn;
  • TMG Partners in its 400,000 square foot lease to Zynga, its 200,000 square foot lease to Riverbed Technology, Inc. and its 240,000 square foot lease to Macys.com, Inc.

Finance

Successfully navigating the challenges of real estate finance matters in today's changing lending environment requires counsel with an intimate knowledge of the legal and business concerns impacting the deal.

Our vast experience in real estate finance covers the broad horizon of finance structures and vehicles, representing lenders, borrowers and investors. Our expertise includes structuring, negotiating, documenting, and closing:

  • Conventional loans
  • Construction loans
  • Loans secured by ground leases
  • Multi-state, multi-asset, cross-collateralized and cross-defaulted loans
  • Letter of credit-supported financings
  • Securitized financings
  • Sale/leaseback transactions
  • Municipal bond financings
  • Mezzanine financings
  • Intercreditor agreements
  • Loan participations and other co-lender arrangements
  • Interest rate protection products

For distressed or non-performing properties, our finance lawyers partner with our bankruptcy and litigation experts to provide strategic and practical options to protect and enhance our client's rights. In addition, we frequently advise potential debt purchasers and investors in evaluating loan acquisitions and investments.

Our recent loan transactions include negotiation of a $170 million loan for the renovation of the 680 Folsom office building in San Francisco; $100 million construction financing of the Exploratorium secured by a ground lease and various donor commitments and donor guaranties; and a $35.5 million construction loan secured by a large residential project on Market Street in San Francisco.

Joint Venture

Working as counsel for both developers and investors, our lawyers have drafted and negotiated many highly complex joint venture agreements. By collaborating with our firm’s tax lawyers, we’re able to provide sound counsel on the many issues that arise in these relationships, including decision-making controls, allocation of guaranty risks, promote distributions, squeeze-down formulas, buy-sell rights, and other exit strategies.

Conservation

Coblentz is one of the few law firms in the country with a practice dedicated to conservation transactions, and we’re proud of the work we do to preserve open space for future generations.

Our practice draws upon the expertise of attorney William Hutton, one of only a handful of attorneys in the nation who specialize in these complex transactions. He works with our team of experienced real estate, tax, and estate planning attorneys to work with the various land trusts and government agencies that are necessary and vital partners in this work.

We've worked on substantial projects throughout the state, from Humboldt County to San Diego. Outside of California, we've provided counsel on deals in American Samoa, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. One of our most significant recent projects was providing tax planning on the conveyance of two conservation easements by Ulupalakua Ranch to Maui Coastal Land Trust, the largest private land conservation transaction ever done in the State of Hawaii. It allowed for two-thirds of the ranch's 18,000 acres to be forever preserved as agricultural and ranch lands, thereby protecting it from being sold piecemeal by future generations.

Purchases & Sales

The work of drafting and negotiating complex purchase and sale agreements is at the heart of our practice, and our attorneys also have deep experience in the collateral issues involved in these transactions, such as providing detailed analysis of title and survey matters, analysis of compliance with existing entitlements, counseling on development, construction and financing issues, and review and analysis of ground leases.

We have represented real estate investors and developers in the acquisition and disposition of all types of properties, including office complexes, industrial projects, multifamily residential developments, and shopping centers. Some of our most recent transactions include:

  • Uber Technologies, Inc. in its $123.5 million purchase of 330,000 square feet of office space in Oakland;
  • A major financial institution in the sale and partial leaseback of an East Bay office park totaling one million square feet, which was named the Suburban Office Deal of the Year by the San Francisco Business Times;
  • Hearst Communications, Inc. in the forward and reverse 1031 exchange purchase of mid-rise office building with ground floor retail;
  • The Mission Bay master developer in negotiating and closing a land sale in Mission Bay, valued at nearly $70 million, involving three owners swapping properties and entitlements for more than 600 residential units.