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Varnum Represents Detroit Public Schools in Sale of Cell Tower Leases

February 22, 2014

In 2014 Varnum represented Detroit Public Schools (DPS) on a $6.8 million sale to Crown Castle of approximately 24 cell tower leases and future leasing rights. The sale included both existing leases and leases which DPS was still negotiating with cell companies.  Varnum worked with in-house counsel and DPS staff to accomplish the transaction under challenging circumstances (some properties had not had title work done for nearly a century; certain lease sales had to be restructured to meet Crown’s environmental criteria) due to a compressed timeframe to meet the Schools’ financial year end.

Varnum developed a Request for Proposals and bidder’s list, helped on the assembly and provision of lease information to bidders, and worked on two rounds of bidding to select the high bidder.  The firm then negotiated a Master Prepaid Easement which conveyed the leases and future leasing rights via multiple closings such that under applicable accounting rules all proceeds were attributed to the 2013-2014 financial year, even though one closing did not occur until after financial year-end.

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