Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi, in an effort to streamline its organization and better serve its real estate clients, announced this week that it is creating two new standalone practice groups related to real estate.
The Redevelopment, Land Use & Zoning Group will be led by co-Chairs Lisa John-Basta and Thomas J. Trautner Jr., as well as practice group leader Jennifer Porter — all prominent redevelopment veterans.
The Real Property Taxation and Incentives Group will be led by Chair John Lloyd, a well-known leader of the property taxation bar.
The groups — and their members — will continue to work closely with firm’s Real Estate Group as part of the collaborative nature of the firm, but the work in these areas has grown so tremendously, the firm felt it should create their own groups.
The groups, already in motion now, will formally start Jan. 1, 2024.
CSG officials said these new practice groups and the appointments to leadership positions reflect CSG Real Estate’s continued growth and commitment to fulfilling the evolving needs of its extensive real estate client base.
“The significant growth of the firm’s Real Estate Group has created the opportunity to establish the Redevelopment, Land Use & Zoning Group and rebrand our Real Estate Property Taxation and Incentives Group, all in order to align with client needs,” name partner and Executive Committee member Frank Giantomasi said.
Mitch Berkey, chair of the Real Estate Group, said the rebranding will have impact for all involved.
“Lisa, Tom and Jen spearheading our redevelopment, land use and zoning team, and John continuing to helm our enhanced property taxation and incentives practice, recognizes their proven leadership and will be a win-win for CSG Law and our clients for years to come,” he said.
Members of the new leadership team have shown to be at the top of their respective disciplines:
- John-Basta co-authors New Jersey Zoning & Land Use Administration, a preeminent treatise on land use and zoning in the state;
- Trautner is the co-chair of the Northern New Jersey District of the Urban Land Institute and is a recognized authority in affordable housing;
- Porter’s practice expands the team’s reach to four states (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut) as she serves clients’ needs regionally;
- Lloyd has over three decades of experience representing owners, taxpayers and municipalities on real property taxation issues spanning all asset classes, as well as complex payment in lieu of taxes, redevelopment, condemnation and incentives matters.
CSG officials said the Redevelopment, Land Use & Zoning Group and Real Estate Property Taxation and Incentives Group both work seamlessly within the tremendous breadth of the overall CSG Real Estate Group, one of the largest full-service real estate teams in the region.
They said the ability to call upon colleagues in CSG Law’s Environmental, Corporate & Securities, and Tax groups positions CSG Law as the leading full-service provider of strategies to achieve client objectives. Group members also collaborate closely with leading consultants from engineering, architectural, environmental science and planning firms, adding value to the development team and providing a coordinated vision and approach to best serve clients’ needs.
Recent projects the Redevelopment, Land Use & Zoning Group and Real Estate Property Taxation and Incentives Group have handled highlight the broad range of capabilities of the team. Among these projects:
- Representing the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, a 25-plus-year-old institution focused on cultural engagement and education, as well as economic development of the urban area of Newark. When NJPAC decided to embark on a transformative $300 million project that would expand the arts and education district surrounding the existing NJPAC, the organization chose CSG as its redevelopment and land use counsel. The project will create a vibrant new neighborhood in center city Newark with mixed-use high-rise and midrise buildings with over 345 residential units and 17,000 square feet of retail space, as well as a new three-story family arts and education community center.
- Representing NJPAC when it decided to embark on a film studio project that some are dubbing “Hollywood East,” in Newark’s South Ward, which will revitalize lands that housed an abandoned housing project with a new state-of-the art 250,000-square-foot film studio complex expected to have a billion-dollar impact on Newark. The firm successfully petitioned to have the property designated an area in need of redevelopment, worked to formulate development regulations for the film studio use in the form of a redevelopment plan, negotiated and entered into a redevelopment agreement with the Newark Housing Authority and obtained land use approvals for the project.
- Representing a major national banking association in over 95 real estate and land use matters across multiple states (New Jersey, New York and Connecticut) in connection with the development of new retail bank branches, expansion of existing retail branches, site upgrades including drive-up ATM and ADA-compliant upgrades, condemnation proceedings and, more recently, in support of its commitment to alternative energy investment through its operational sustainability and retail solar projects for more than two dozen sites.
- Representing a solar energy provider in obtaining land use approvals and successfully defending litigation challenging those approvals for a 70-megawatt solar energy generation facility — a one-of-its-kind, utility-scale, clean energy project located on 593 acres across several parcels throughout Harmony Township. This project helped the state meet its renewal energy goals set forth in Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan, which include achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2050.
- Representing a joint venture of a publicly traded international real estate investment firm and New Jersey-based developer/operator as transactional and redevelopment counsel with respect to the redevelopment of the Montclair Arts & Entertainment District that has energized the vibrant cultural, dining and shopping downtown area of Montclair through a $135 million investment into a 14,000-square-foot Public Plaza, 200 residential apartments, 40,000 square feet of office space, 40,000 square feet of retail development and the redevelopment of the historic Wellmont Theater. Taking a lead role, CSG helped the redeveloper assemble the sites, secure the necessary land use approvals, establish terms for the shared maintenance and operation of the Public Plaza and negotiate all related real estate concerns.