Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney shareholders Jack Kessler. Bruce Booken and counsel Rebecca Trinkler.
Kimberly Lecompte, Greenberg Traurig.
Albert Delgado and Manny Fernandez, Kasowitz Benson Torres. Courtesy photos

Real estate attorneys tend to bond with their clients, which guarantees carryover business.

The Daily Business Review recognizes three law firms playing on the big stage in commercial real estate deals as part of its annual Professional Excellence Awards.

The firms will be recognized at a May 23 event at the Rusty Pelican in Miami.


The Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney team of Fort Lauderdale shareholders Jack J. Kessler and Bruce Booken along with counsel Rebecca S. Trinkler represented Aventura Mall Venture, an affiliate of Turnberry Associates and Simon Properties, in the $1.75 billion refinancing of the mall.

Buchanan Ingersoll has represented Aventura Mall and Turnberry Associates since 1990 on refinancing, leasing and construction. Kessler, a tax and business transactional attorney, led a multi-office team to close one of the year’s largest single-asset retail financings in the nation last June.

The mall owners pushed for a 90-day closing to take advantage of favorable market conditions. Terms were not disclosed.

The refinancing was challenging because it involved a four-bank lending syndicate, which added to the legal and financial teams reviewing the transaction.

In addition to tax and corporate law issues, the transaction required multiple legal opinion letters covering various states and coordination with Simon Properties, a one-third stakeholder at the mall.

Aventura Mall is one of the largest malls in the country at 2.9 million square feet, including the latest three-story, 300,000-square-foot addition.

About $1.2 billion repaid an existing loan, and about $214 million paid off the expansion loan.



Greenberg Traurig shareholder Kimberly S. LeCompte led the firm’s team on the nearly $600 million sale of BRM Advisors LLC’s affordable housing holdings in Florida to Starwood through four separate transactions ending last March.

LeCompte represented the seller as special mergers and acquisitions, real estate and tax counsel on the 27-property Dolphin portfolio of affordable housing communities across the state.

The transaction was complex because the consideration for BRM Advisors and its affiliates consisted of a combination of cash and operating partnership units in a Starwood-formed real estate investment trust ending up with a joint venture.

The phased deals depended on the assumption of existing financing and the timing of regulatory approval. Only a week passed between the initial signing of the contribution agreement and first closing. The others closed over a series of months.

The complex transactions required the production of numerous detailed and customized legal documents for each aspect and for each beneficiary involved.

“Clients are seeking more innovative and complex vehicles for real estate investments, and legal teams need to be more creative and flexible than ever,” LeCompte said. Other clients include The Related Group, Mast Capital, Rockpoint Group, Kolter Group, Bayview Financial and GL Homes of Florida.



Manuel Fernandez regularly represents prominent developers, financial institutions and investors in a broad array of real estate matters, including acquisitions and dispositions, commercial leasing, distressed real estate transactions, financing and joint venture formation.

In the past year, the Miami real estate transactions group partner led Kasowitz teams on a joint venture between Quinlan Development Group and Building Land & Technology in the $152 million refinancing of the 41 Flatbush Building in New York; representing GPC Truss in joint venture negotiations with Monument Realty and Junius Real Estate Partners for development of a $105 million apartment tower in the trendy NoMa district in Washington D.C.; representing BRP Development on the acquisition and financing for two assemblages in New Rochelle, New York, and $125 million in multifamily development plans for the property; and GreenOak Real Estate on a $38 million joint venture purchase of 555 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach and $27 million in financing with Mesa West Capital.

Fernandez also played a part in the record-shattering $517 million sale of the Southeast Financial Center tower in 2016.