The past year has been nothing short of amazing for Chicago- based Independent, full-service business law firm, Much Shelist.
With the firm’s recent success of negotiating a 15-year lease between their client, 233 Wacker S. Drive LLC, and law firm Seyfarth Shaw, the deal brings Much Shelist’s total commercial leasing activity to more than one million square feet of space throughout the United States in the past year.
Having achieved such a profound accomplishment was no easy feat. According to Harold S. Dembo, co-chair of the firm’s real estate practice group, the firm sets very high standards for themselves in terms of work ethic and drive.
“We strive to understand our clients’ businesses and their needs, produce excellent work, and provide the highest level of client service,” Dembo said. “We are always marketing and cross-marketing the firm’s multiple services to clients, and prospective clients, in order to better serve them with full-service solutions. Our culture encourages every attorney in our firm to seek out new business and to develop existing client relationships.”
Seyfarth Shaw is moving its Chicago offices to 200,000 square feet of space at Willis Tower, which now brings the total leasing in the iconic Willis Tower to about 93 percent. Dembo says that negotiating a commitment to a tenant for a 15-year lease is a long- term investment in any lease transaction.
“Our client, 233 S. Wacker Drive LLC, could not be more thrilled to have a high-quality tenant such as Seyfarth Shaw relocate its offices into the building, and accordingly was prepared to commit to a 15-year lease term. As lawyers, it is our job to make sure that the lease is fully negotiated and is on terms acceptable to our client. The economics of this type of transaction are always closely analyzed so that our client is completely satisfied that it will receive an adequate return on its investment.”
Much Shelist also represented 233 S. Wacker Drive LLC in a 15-year extension of the Willis Tower lease for 125,000 square feet of new space for one of the building’s longest-standing and largest tenants, the law firm Dentons.
Other lease activity handled by the firm within the last 12 months include negotiating 12 store leases for Mariano’s grocery chain, completing Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant leases in locations around the United States (primarily Illinois, Arizona, and Maryland), negotiating more than 500,000 square feet of office and industrial leasing throughout the country on behalf of Orix Corporation, as well as 231,000 square feet of retail leases at the Maxwell project in the South Loop (including Burlington coat Factory, Dick’s Sporting Goods, T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack).
The firm also leased 182,000 square feet of the former Sears retail space, located at 1 North Dearborn Street, to the Chicago Board of Education for its new headquarters. Dembo said that the negotiations with the Chicago Board of Education for an office lease were no different than negotiations with any other prospective tenant.
“It is a commercial lease negotiation,” he said. “The lawyers are expected to make sure that the lease comports with the terms and provisions of a term sheet or a letter of intent that has been negotiated among the brokers and the principals in the transaction. Given that the prospective tenant was in the public arena, negotiations were highly confidential until the Board of Education was prepared to make a public announcement. We are pleased that the lease was completed in a satisfactory manner for all parties.”
A final highlight of lease activity within the last year for Much Shelist is negotiating more than a dozen commercial leases for a publicly traded company with a market cap of more than $8 billion.
Dembo said that as the real estate counsel for this company, the firm has handled numerous office and industrial leases for the company on an international basis.
“Often times, the real estate transaction is part of a much larger corporate transaction, such as an acquisition of another company that includes its owned and leased real estate,” he said. “It is our objective to make sure that the ownership interests and/or leasehold estates that our client is assuming are acceptable to them. Leases may have to be amended in advance of any closing so that the terms of the leases on a going-forward basis are acceptable to the client’s requirements.”
Much Shelist would not be the firm it is today if it was not ambitious. This is why it comes as no surprise that they expect 2014 to exceed last year’s achievements.
“As the economy continues to heat up,” he said. “We continue to experience the benefits of an increased demand in legal services. Leasing office, retail and industrial space is just one area that will continue to grow over the next 12 months.”
Dembo added, “Although we are based in Chicago, our real estate practice has a national scope and our real estate attorneys have the depth and experience to handle virtually any kind of real estate matter, from acquisitions and sales to financings, for residential, industrial, office or retail purposes. Because of our diverse clientele, we are able to successfully work in all facets of real estate law.”