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Melissa B. Papke Partner

Grand Rapids
V-Card, Resume
Charlene Vondett, 616/336-6555

Commercial Real Estate Experience

Melissa is a partner and leads the Real Estate Practice Team. She focuses her practice on corporate and real estate matters, with an emphasis on commercial sales, acquisitions, leasing, and redevelopment, as well as construction law. She has extensive experience in structuring primary and replacement real estate financing with banks, private investors, and joint ventures, including mezzanine and other uniquely structured secured loan facilities.

Melissa offers her clients significant experience in negotiating commercial and industrial design and construction contracts, and counsels her clients throughout the construction process. In addition, she has developed expertise in numerous aspects of residential and mixed-use condominium projects, as well as environmental transactions ranging from conservation easements and charitable donations to sustainable forest management and carbon offset credits.

Representative Matters

  • Coordinated consolidated master lease of 300,000 sq. ft. of commercial and industrial space in the Chicago metro area, that was formerly leased in multiple locations, with non-coordinated terms and durations.
  • Negotiated fast-track large-scale industrial build-to-suit lease, with multiple-phased construction and buildings, economic incentives, and various future expansion, redevelopment, and acquisition options.
  • Handled acquisition and financing of $100+ million dollar multifamily communities in the Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing metro and suburban areas, including structured loans and securitization.
  • Orchestrated and negotiated construction and design agreements for a $70 million expansion project for tourist attraction and conservation project.
  • Provided real estate, labor, corporate and regulatory counsel for first-in-its industry national client’s service business and entrance into the Michigan market, which included rapid growth and acquisition of multiple sites, assets and work forces.

Professional Affiliations

  • American College of Mortgage Attorneys: Board of Regents, 2015 – present; state chair for Michigan, 2011 – present; fellow, 2009 – present
  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers, fellow, 2017
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association: Real Estate Section, president 2014 - 2015; vice president 2012 - 2014; secretary and treasurer, 2010 - 2012; member, 2004 – present
  • State Bar of Michigan: Real Property Law Section, Council member, 2011 – present; Environmental and Energy Law Committee, co-chair, 2007 ­– present; member, 2004 –present

Community Involvement

  • Habitat for Humanity: Family Services Committee for Home Ownership Program, board member, 2010 - 2014
  • Inforum - Professional Women’s Alliance
  • Varnum’s Diversity Committee and liaison to Hispanic law student groups
  • West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: board member; Membership Committee Chair, 2011 - 2014


  • Best Lawyers in America®, Real Estate Law, Grand Rapids, 2016 - 2018
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Women in the Law Spring Business Edition, Real Estate Law, 2017
  • Crain’s Detroit Business, Most Notable Women Lawyers in Michigan, nominee, 2017
  • InMotion Commitment to Justice Award for pro bono representation of domestic violence victims and low income women, 2001


  • University of Michigan Law School
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    J.D., 1998
  • Dartmouth College
    Hanover, New Hampshire
    B.A., Japanese, 1995
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