Pierce Atwood’s Boston-based commercial real estate team has extensive experience in all aspects of commercial development in Greater Boston and beyond.  Our real estate attorneys provide comprehensive services to commercial developers in site selection, due diligence, land use analysis, land acquisition, title clearing, permitting strategy, and all related litigation, including defense of permits and challenges to improper permit denials.  Scores of real estate developers count on our attorneys for skilled guidance through the permitting maze, resulting in successful, profitable developments across Massachusetts. 

Our team has especially deep experience in Boston and its western suburbs, the North Shore, the South Shore, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.  In addition to commercial real estate developers, our clients include major corporations and nonprofit institutions, asset managers, leasing agents, lenders, and private property owners.

No matter where you are in the critical phases of real estate development, Pierce Atwood’s real estate team is your ideal legal partner. Our decades of practice have given us the relationships and local, on-the-ground knowledge needed to provide sound advice in matters such as zoning and land use law, waterfront disputes, affordable housing, and public use of private land. We’ve helped thousands of clients in Boston and around Massachusetts navigate complex land use regulations and complete successful developments. 

If you're interested in additional insight and analysis on the legal landscape in Massachusetts - court decisions, legislation, regulatory changes, and policy debates that affect the use and development of land in the Commonwealth, check out our Massachusetts Dirt and Development Law blog. 

Areas of Expertise

Pierce Atwood real estate lawyers have decades of experience advising local and regional developers on complex development projects in Greater Boston, where city and town planning processes and local land use regulations are at issue. Our team knows and understands the local zoning codes and other regulations that govern development in the city of Boston and surrounding communities. We’re prepared to handle the most complicated projects that require knowledge of the state Zoning Act known as Chapter 40A, the state Wetlands Protection Act, the corresponding local zoning and wetlands ordinances and bylaws, and the variety of other state and local regulations that govern land use.  In addition to this expertise, our strong relationships with zoning boards, planning boards, and other land use authorities in Boston and surrounding cities and towns allow us to simplify and expedite the land use permitting process. Pierce Atwood’s real estate attorneys can turn your plans into profitable development projects, supporting you from site selection to occupancy.

Our team has especially deep experience in long-term leases, sale-leasebacks and ground leases in Boston, Cambridge, and across the country. Our attorneys have worked on projects including major rail and transit hubs, former federal facility base reuse projects, offshore wind staging sites, and a mixed-use biotechnology park in East Cambridge.

Our long-term leases and ground leases have included innovative participating rent features as well as the full spectrum of more common financeable lease issues. Our financeable lease provisions have passed muster with scores of leading institutional investors and lenders on transactions in the billions of dollars.

Pierce Atwood’s sale-leaseback experience ranges from major corporate headquarters, full-service ground-leased hotels, and rail transit stations, to approximately 600,000+ square feet of former federal facility industrial space, and the simultaneous sale-leasebacks involving a portfolio of 100+ limited service hotel properties across 25 states.

Our team is experienced with Boston waterfront development including municipal harbor plans and waterfront property rights and easements, and other mixed-use development projects that must adhere to Boston zoning laws.

These projects require a comprehensive understanding of land use restrictions pertaining to private lands, easements, wetlands and parks. Knowledge of, and experience with, Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution, “the Right to a Clean Environment in Massachusetts,” and regulatory taking procedures and criteria are essential here.

Community Housing Capital, Inc.

Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation

South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation

Pierce Atwood’s legal team has experience representing both for-profit and nonprofit developers of affordable housing under the state’s affordable housing law known as Chapter 40B.  We represent applicants for comprehensive permits under Chapter 40B in front of local zoning boards and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (formerly the Boston Redevelopment Authority). Due to the rapid development and increasing cost of living in the city of Boston, affordable housing carve-outs and tradeoffs are increasingly common.  We are also familiar with Fair Housing Act regulations, public-private partnership arrangements, land disposition agreements, and other affordable housing considerations that often arise in major projects.

Representative Experience

Pierce Atwood served as permitting counsel to a real estate development firm in connection with an affordable housing project in Boston's South End. This important project will include dozens of new homes for moderate-income, first-time homebuyers.

Permitting Counsel for Affordable Housing

With offices in four New England states and the District of Columbia, and more than 30 lawyers practicing in finance related areas, our Banking and Financial Services team is uniquely situated and equipped to represent lenders in the origination and administration of commercial lending facilities and other debt financing (including lines of credit, asset-based facilities, construction loans, equipment lines, term loans, and SBA loans), and in structuring secured transactions involving all types of assets, including receivables, inventory, equipment, real estate, fixtures, standing timber, chattel paper, intellectual property, farm products, securities and other instruments. Our work ranges from small business loans of $500,000 or more to multistate financings in excess of $100 million. In addition, we handle portfolio loans, syndicated transactions and participations, and regularly act as local and regional counsel to lenders in large multi-state financing transactions. Members of our team are qualified SBA counsel, and our clients include commercial banks, financial service companies, private lenders, and lending syndicates.

Representative Experience

Pierce Atwood acted as lead lender’s counsel to Bank of New England in connection with a $30.9 million loan transaction for the construction a 107,000-square-foot cold storage facility at 40 West Commercial Street in Portland, Maine. We also provided construction and zoning advice.

Bank of New England Loan Transaction for Cold Storage Facility

Representative Experience

Pierce Atwood attorney Gareth Orsmond played a leading role as part of a team that secured a waterways license for Cronin Holding’s 150 Seaport Boulevard project, a 250-foot tall, 22-story mixed use development in Boston’s Innovation District.  Gareth defended Cronin in multiple lawsuits brought by the Conservation Law Foundation and worked with former Massachusetts Governor William Weld to reach a settlement.  The project, built around an iconic building designed by Elkus Manfredi, will break ground in the spring of 2018 and will bring about significant public benefits, including 46 units of deeply subsidized senior housing and long-term funding to provide waterfront and Boston Harbor experiences to disadvantaged children from the City of Boston. 

150 Seaport Boulevard Waterways License

Provided advice to client regarding the Massachusetts Permit Extension Act.

Advice on Massachusetts Permit Extension Act

On behalf of Atlantic Gardens, LLC, we closed a deeply-subsidized eight-building, 32-unit affordable housing deal in Quincy, Massachusetts. The transaction required several loans and grants – both public and private – in exchange for long-term affordable housing restrictions. The City of Quincy put nearly $2 million of its affordable housing trust funds into the project.

Affordable Housing in Quincy

Pierce Atwood acted as lead lender’s counsel to Bank of New England in connection with a $30.9 million loan transaction for the construction a 107,000-square-foot cold storage facility at 40 West Commercial Street in Portland, Maine. We also provided construction and zoning advice.

Bank of New England Loan Transaction for Cold Storage Facility

Pierce Atwood represented Cambridge Trust Company in closing on its $110 million commitment to the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP). MHP will use the funds to finance multifamily rental housing, with a focus on supporting low- and moderate-income households and nonprofit developers in the communities that Cambridge Trust serves. MHP estimates that the bank’s new initiative will help finance the construction of 1,400 rental apartments over the next 10 years.

Cambridge Trust Company’s $110 Million Commitment to Financing Affordable Housing

We received two favorable appellate decisions on behalf of our developer client, Montrose School Park, LLC, in a series of cases challenging permits for a residential cluster development in Beverly, Massachusetts. Browne v. Conservation Commission of Beverly, 85 Mass. App. Ct. 1121 (2014) (unpublished) and Browne v. Planning Board of Beverly, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 1125 (2017) (unpublished).

Favorable Appellate Decisions for Real Estate Developer

We received a favorable trial decision from the Superior Court on behalf of our client, 246 Main Street Realty, LLC, holding that the plaintiffs failed to prove adverse possession of a portion of the parking lot for the client’s commercial building.

Favorable Decision in Adverse Possession Claim

Representing Cronin Development LLC in permitting and development of a 235,500 square foot, eight-story, laboratory and R&D facility at 24 Drydock Ave. in Boston’s Seaport District.

Lab and R&D Facility in Boston’s Seaport District

We received a favorable trial decision from the Land Court on behalf of a private client, overturning a special permit that authorized an abutting owner to replace a residential cottage on Nantucket Harbor with a commercial use.

Land Court Overturns Special Permit

Representation of Urbanica, Inc. and its affiliate UHomes LLC in connection with the acquisition and construction financing for a multifamily residential project to be located at 90 Antwerp Street, Brighton, Massachusetts.

Multifamily Residential Project in Brighton

Representation of the Skating Club of Boston in the acquisition and development of a new, state-of-the-art, three-rink, 4,000-seat skating facility on University Avenue in Norwood, Massachusetts. We have assisted the Skating Club in all aspects of site acquisition, title matters (including clearing some old reciprocal easements for an office park that was never developed), zoning, wetlands and MEPA permitting, payment in lieu taxes agreements, and development agreements. We also represented the Skating Club in the sale of its existing facility at 1234 and 1240 Soldier’s Field Road in Boston.

New Facility for Skating Club of Boston

Pierce Atwood served as permitting counsel to a real estate development firm in connection with an affordable housing project in Boston's South End. This important project will include dozens of new homes for moderate-income, first-time homebuyers.

Permitting Counsel for Affordable Housing

Represented landowner Kendall F. Crocker III in successfully preserving an historic farm and approximately 300 acres of land located on Jewell Hill in Fitchburg, Ashby, and Ashburnham, Massachusetts. The land, known locally as Crocker Farm, was sold to The Trustees of Reservations and is now permanently preserved through a conservation restriction so that it can provide valuable scenic and public recreational opportunities for generations to come.  Mr. Crocker, the Trustees, and all three municipalities worked together to preserve the land through a combination of donor fundraising, grants awarded to the municipalities through the Commonwealth’s Land Grant Program, and a sales price substantially below the appraised value.

Preserving Farm, Promoting Conservation

Represented an affordable housing provider in completing the purchase, rehabilitation, and preservation of 32 units of heavily subsidized low-income housing through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, MassDevelopment bonds, and low-interest loans from the City of Quincy’s Affordable Housing Trust. The development, known as Bersani Circle, is the culmination of more than a year’s worth of work with the City of Quincy and various lender and tax credit investment entities, and will provide affordable housing at a time of great need.

Purchase, Rehabilitation, & Preservation of Low-Income Housing

Representation of the Town of Westwood (MA) in connection with the redevelopment of Islington Center, Westwood, Massachusetts.

Redevelopment of Islington Center, Westwood (MA)

Pierce Atwood represented Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) in connection with a $20 million subscription line of credit from Rockland Trust Company for the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund II Limited Partnership. The fund was launched by MHIC and Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to finance inclusive mixed-use developments near public transportation that offer retail, housing, and social services to support healthier communities.

Subscription Line of Credit for Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund