Members of the residential and commercial real estate industry face a series of legal issues that require a diverse set of skills and creative, innovative and collaborative thinking. Starr Associates LLP is ranked at the top of New York’s pre-eminent law firms with the expertise to provide comprehensive legal representation for the real estate industry. The Firm includes practice groups offering a full range of services, including condominium and cooperative offering plan registrations for newly constructed and conversion projects, vacation ownership filings, redevelopment mixed-use commercial structures, contract drafting negotiations and closings, cooperative and condominium board representation, litigation and dispute resolution and real estate sales, acquisitions, financing and leasing.
The Firm provides counsel to clients in all phases of the development process, from acquisition and construction through marketing, sales, contract drafting, negotiation and closing, and ushers clients through the complex registration requirements of the New York State Department of Law. We grasp the complexity of state law and regulation and know how to navigate them to gain approval for our client’s projects.
Through the years, the group’s attorneys have filed offering plans for approximately 650,000 units with an aggregate purchase prices in excess of $50 billion. The complexities of residential condominium development are amplified when other uses are on or adjacent to the site. The group has represented the New York City area’s most prolific developers, hoteliers and lenders in major celebrated projects including complex condominium and leasehold regimes that accommodate mixed-use occupancy components such as hotel, retail, residential, vacation ownership, parking and community facilities. The group also counsels prospective lenders and purchasers of performing and distressed condominium and cooperative assets. Firm clients have included the sponsors of some of Manhattan’s most well-known condominium and cooperative projects, such as 520 Park Avenue, 18 Gramercy Park South, Walker Tower, Stella Tower, Sterling Mason, Huys, Fifteen Central Park West, 252 East 57th Street, 53 West 53rd Street, 160 Leroy, 50 Grammercy Park North, 111 West 57th Street and 242 Broome Street. The group also represents sponsors of developments in other areas of New York City, suburban counties and upstate New York and has extensive expertise in the conversion of occupied residential rental properties to condominium or cooperative ownership, such as 389 East 89th Street, 62 Avenue B, Carnegie Park, Manhattan House, 101 West 78th Street, 30 Lincoln Plaza, and Lincoln Towers. The St. Regis Hotel, The Manhattan Club and Wyndam’s Midtown 45, are three of the many vacation ownership projects on the Firm’s roster, which also include vacation clubs throughout the United States, the Caribbean and the Middle East. The Firm’s client list boasts other significant owners of premier hotel franchises and independent developers whose vacation ownership projects are registered by the Firm in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The group also advises institutional and mezzanine lenders that provide financing to developers of offering plan projects to ensure they have appropriate protections in their loan documents.
The Starr team is also seasoned in advising developers and owners in the formation and operation of commercial and leasehold condominiums, including the conversion of existing buildings to commercial condominiums as a component of a complicated mixed-use development.
The Firm is a leader in assisting developers with the registration of out-of-state projects through the new stream-lined CPS-12 Application process.
The Firm is well known in the industry for “getting the deals done”. The contract and closing practice group teams with the sales and marketing to ensure that all contracts are negotiated expeditiously and all closings are consummated as efficiently as possible. The Firm handles all aspects of the sales and closing process for the Firm’s New York-based condominium and cooperative clients. In seamless coordination with each client and the client’s sales and marketing team, the group prepares, distributes and negotiates contracts of sale, acts as escrow agent for purchaser deposits, maintains an extensive database and calendar, enabling clients to track the sales and closing process, and provides notices to purchasers for additional deposits, closings and defaults and the pay down of underlying construction, project, acquisition and mezzanine loans. The group prepares closing statements for pre-approval by clients and construction lenders and handles all aspects of closings of residential and commercial units. The Firm makes extensive use of legal and administrative personnel to provide the appropriate skill level for the legal services required by our clients. The Firm keeps pace with cutting edge technology by providing our lawyers, staff and clients with the most advanced tools available to facilitate contract processing and closings expeditiously and effectively.
The Firm has great expertise in submitting “no-action applications” to the Attorney General’s office which are permitted when creating condominiums under various scenarios: split commercial section from rental section provided rental section is not being offered for sale; splitting a commercial building in one or more condominium units either for tax and financing purposes or for the sale to a sophisticated purchaser of one or more condominium units without filing an offering plan. The Firm handled “no-action applications” for the creation of condominiums at 636 Sixth avenue, 620 Sixth Avenue, Marriott Marquis, 170 Broadway, 5740 Broadway, 522 Fifth Avenue and 414-416 West Broadway to name a few. The Firm prepares the application, drafts offeror and offeree affidavits as applicable, coordinates with owner’s architect in reviewing tax lot drawings and drafts an appropriate condominium declaration and by-laws.
In addition to our highly-regarded registration practice, Starr Associates LLP handles a broad range of sophisticated and complex real estate transactions, leveraging our extensive skills and experience in virtually all types of real estate and development matters, including acquisitions and dispositions, and financing. We represent the developers/owners, lenders and equity investors in all aspects of their real estate transactions, guiding and advising our clients through all phases of a particular deal. We have also become known in the industry for our representation of lenders to conduct review and analysis of condominium or other Martin Act registrations to assess and diminish potential exposure in connection with their underwriting of loans.
Across practice areas, we aim provide creative solutions to help our clients anticipate the nuances of complex transactions so as to maximize profitability and minimize risk.
Over the past decade, the Firm has expanded its commercial leasing practice and represents both landlords and tenants on complicated office, retail, restaurant, and ground leases throughout New York, New Jersey, and other states around the country. Based on the Firm’s historical involvement as a major player in the development and offering plan registration practice, and its ever-growing client list of developers and building owners, expansion into leasing was a logical next step. The leasing group is led by the Firm’s senior partner, Shaun W. Pappas, Esq., and has grown to be a significant addition to the Firm’s robust development practice, adding another layer of expertise in real estate transaction to counsel its clients. Our leasing team works with clients throughout the lease life cycle, from initial negotiations through resolution of post-termination issues. We negotiate, draft, execute, review, and amend complex commercial leases and related agreements. We represent several large hospitality groups, technology and small business startups, as well as major retail chains. Our leasing group, along with the Firm’s litigation group, also assists in resolving landlord-tenant disputes.
The Firm provides legal representation to the boards of numerous condominium and cooperative associations. The group counsels boards, managing agents and owners of unsold shares and blocks of condominium units in all aspects of condominium and cooperative law. Services include litigation and dispute resolution, interpreting condominium declarations and by-laws, cooperative proprietary leases and by-laws and redrafting outdated corporate documents to bring them into compliance with current law and the realities of modern-day living. Additionally the group assists cooperatives in refinancing underlying building loans.
As condominium and cooperative boards face budgeting, assessment and collection challenges, the Firm routinely advises clients on fiduciary duty obligations and potential liability arising from the relationships between the developer, the management company and the boards of managers or directors. Our team offers guidance on a broad array of operational issues to ensure that clients understand the legal rights and obligations of various parties under operative agreements. The Firm leads clients through the technical requirements of structuring and operating condominium regimes and cooperative associations. This includes reviewing existing cooperative and condominium documents to identify issues relating to developer rights and obligations, analyzing deficit and reserve funding status, and developing strategic plans for preparation and adoption of budgets as well as assessment collection.
Developers increasingly encounter federal and state judicial decisions spawned by condominium and cooperative boards, homeowners associations and individual purchasers. The Firm works with developers to strategize and take proactive measures so they may aggressively defend against these suits and drafts its offering plans with a prophylactic eye toward litigation avoidance. In doing so, our team analyzes potential claims and rescission rights under applicable state condominium law and advises developers in connection with construction defect claims related to their projects. Working in collaboration with the Development and Offering Plan Practice Group, the Firm’s vast experience litigating sponsor control and construction defect claims has been invaluable to developers of newly constructed buildings and conversion projects alike.
Developers looking to acquire distressed projects rely on the Firm to provide transactional, regulatory and litigation guidance to handle all aspects of potential successor developer liability, including restructuring of condominium and cooperative regimes to satisfy new operational needs and enhance marketability. In good economic times and bad, our team advises its clients on how to most effectively position themselves to manage the risks and liabilities associated with ownership of inventory within a condominium or cooperative regime and to reposition project components to achieve the best use for the current market. When necessary, we pursue alternative dispute resolution through arbitration, mediation or structured negotiations.
The Firm has quickly become an industry leader in the area of tax-exempt leasehold condominiums. The Firm’s vast knowledge in this area has enabled countless not-for-profit entities taking long-term occupancy of space across New York City to benefit from real estate tax exemptions typically only available to property owners under RPTL §420-a. These real estate tax exemptions have been made possible through the creation of unique leasehold condominium structures. While these transactions traditionally involved a complex and costly framework of documents, in recent years, the Firm’s newest Partner, Julia Wachter, in conjunction with the New York City Department of Finance and industry professionals innovated a simpler and more cost-efficient structure which is now widely used across the industry. Whether through the more traditional or newer approach, the Firm’s representation includes: counseling clients, including property owners and not-for-profit entities, on how to best structure these transactions to achieve their desired results and long-term goals; review and negotiation of transaction documents, including term sheets, leases and/or other agreements, where applicable; preparation and review of “no-action” applications and condominium governing documents; and overseeing formation of the various condominium regimes. Client representation has included developers, investors and other property owners as well as not-for-profit entities across a myriad of industries, including major healthcare and social services institutions, schools and cultural institutions. The Firm has presented on the matter to property owners, not-for-profit entities, commercial brokers, leasing attorneys, and other industry professionals and welcomes the opportunity to further present on the matter. The Firm prides itself on being on the frontlines of this ever-evolving practice area.
Our team has had the pleasure of working with Starr Associates on our project at 150 Rivington Street. The entire Starr team was a tremendous asset to the success of our project. Through very challenging times, Starr Associates came through time and time again. It is an honor to work with everyone at Starr!
I have known Allan Starr for many years and worked with him on many projects. He has always exceeded my expectations. He not only knows the ins and outs of the law, but knows how to make the whole process easy and quick. I’ve found him to possess an incredibly astute legal mind, combined with a common sense approach that always accomplishes my goals. He’s not only a gentleman and a friend, but a brilliant lawyer.
It has been an absolute pleasure working with Allan Starr and Samantha Sheeber over the past twelve years. They are not only the utmost professionals, but also wonderful people who I have grown to love like family. I trust them with all of my new development projects and private clients, and we support each other in our business and personal lives. Starr Associates LLP has always been there for me and my clients and I would recommend them as highly as I recommend anyone.
Allan and I have worked together for decades; along the way, I have worked with Samantha Sheeber, Andrea Roschelle, John Rodriguez and Erica Starr and have always been pleased with their quick and accurate responses. They have worked with us on closings (with great and efficient results), restatements of stale plans, amendments and other assorted AG requirements, always on a timely and cost-effective basis.
“Working with Starr has been great on three condo projects in Manhattan to date. The accessibility and direct attention of the partners is unsurpassed. Allan and Sam have the interests of the owner at heart and make every effort to protect our interests in a responsible and defensible manner. Their practical approach and deep knowledge of the offering plan process and requirements of the AG office combine to make a highly effective and efficient package. At the associate level they have good support as well. The closing office has to be the best in NY – never a failed closing in 15 years. We are repeat customers and will be going forward.”
“Samantha Sheeber is a partner in making transactions successful. She’s resourceful, respected, smart, funny as hell, and is swift to constantly embarrass us (and clients) because she sees the end while we all muddle in the middle. She saves time. She is selfless and fast and conscientious. She’s loyal to the notion of selflessly getting stuff done. She cultivates great talent. And she makes the process fun, even when she is mad at us for asking the same impossible question 11 times hoping for a new result (a solution for which — by the way — she often discovers).”
“As an active developer in New York City, Magnum Real Estate Group is proud to have partnered with Starr Associates, LLP as our legal counsel in 5 significant projects valued at approximately $800 million. Over the last 5 years, Starr has provided us with exceptional advice on condominium Offering Plans and related transactions. Partner Samantha Sheeber, Esq. and her team have professionally guided us, and provided creative and effective solutions when needed.”
“I have had the fortunate opportunity, over the past 16 years, to work with Allan Starr and Samantha Sheeber who I consider to be experts in the field of real estate law. They, together with their team, have a deep understanding of Attorney General Offering Plan registrations and continually seek to identify creative solutions to complicated issues. Their level of integrity and commitment are unwavering no matter how large or small a project. I completely endorse Starr Associates LLP and look forward to our mutual continued success.”
“Starr Associates’ specialty in the creation and representation of condominiums is unmatched. Their knowledge, experience and professionalism in the office condominium sector is best-in-class. Starr Associates’ hard work and expertise has been critical to the success of our firm’s office condominium projects.”
“Starr Associates have been our condominium attorneys for many years. Their counsel goes well beyond just drafting the condominium documents, which of course they do extremely well. They also represent us and our brand with condominium unit purchasers, and with our lenders and partners on condominium related matters. We have always found Starr’s attorneys to be professional, responsive and cost-conscious.”