Coveted Counsel: Real Estate Lawyer Meredith Kane Talks About Her Deals Reshaping the City
January 29, 2015

In 1990, Times Square’s West 42nd Street was in bad shape. The real estate market was in the tank and the blighted corridor, running from Broadway to Eighth Avenue, boasted little activity aside from adult video stores, peep shows and the occasional dive bar.

As part of the 42nd Street Development Project, a city-state economic initiative designed to kick-start the area’s revitalization, a not-for-profit organization called the New 42nd Street was given the task of restoring the area’s abandoned theaters. Over time, tenants were found for each theater and leases were written, breathing new life into these architectural gems...

Ira Schuman, the executive vice president at Savills Studley who has known Ms. Kane for the past 25 years, stressed the importance in recognizing that doing real estate deals in the not-for-profit sector is far more complex than executing commercial deals. The space requirements, deal structures and financing sources available to an organization are generally more complex than a standard commercial transaction.

“There are many more skills you need as a lawyer to bring deals together smoothly in the not-for-profit sector,” Mr. Schuman said. “And in my experience, Meredith has both the intelligence and temperament, both of which are important, to doing large, complex deals in the not-for-profit sector.”

Mr. Schuman said that the most remarkable deal he has worked on with Ms. Kane was the transaction with the American Civil Liberties Union at 125 Broad Street, where she crafted a leasehold condominium for the legal advocacy group more than 20 years ago. The tax-efficient strategy allows a not-for-profit organization to control real estate on a long-term basis and not pay real estate taxes. At the time, the building was on a land lease, which would not have ordinarily permitted the tenant to be exempt from real estate taxes. However, by crafting the leasehold condo, Mr. Schuman and Ms. Kane achieved that goal.

“Meredith is the mother of the leasehold condominium,” said Mr. Schuman, “and I was attending the birth.” Since then, the two have crafted these structures for universities, social services agencies, foundations and other not-for-profit organizations.

Of all of the deals she has worked on, Ms. Kane said representing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the Hudson Yards project has been the most memorable.

Coveted Counsel: Real Estate Lawyer Meredith Kane Talks About Her Deals Reshaping the City

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