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 a strong background 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.
Coordinated consolidated master lease of 300,000 square feet 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 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.
Honors & Recognitions
Best Lawyers in America®, Real Estate Law, Grand Rapids, 2016 and 2017
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, 2017
InMotion Commitment to Justice Award for pro bono representation of domestic violence victims and low income women, 2001
American College of Mortgage Attorneys: Board of Regents, 2015 - present; Michigan State Chair, 2011 - present; Co-Chair of Mentorship Committee, 2017 - present; Fellow, 2009
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
International Council of Shopping Centers: member, 2018
State Bar of Michigan: Real Property Law Section, Council member, 2011 - 2017; Environmental and Energy Law Committee, co-chair, 2007 - present; member, 2004 - present
Habitat for Humanity: Family Services Committee for Home Ownership Program, Board member, 2010 - 2014
Varnum’s Diversity Committee and liaison to Hispanic law student groups
West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: Board of Directors; Membership Committee Chair, 2011 - 2014
News & Publications
- December 15, 2017
- August 16, 2017
- August 7, 2017
- June 9, 2017
- May 11, 2017
- August 26, 2016
- August 20, 2015
- February 7, 2012
- August 16, 2011
- January 11, 2011
- September 8, 2010
- June 1, 2009
Panel speaker, International Council of Shopping Centers, "Clicks and Bricks, Stronger Retail Together," Novi, Michigan (2018)
Panel speaker, Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan Conference, "That Lease Suits Me Fine: The Dynamics of Negotiating a Build-to-Suit Lease," Scottsdale, Arizona (2016)
Speaker, Grand Rapids Bar Association Real Estate Section Meeting, "Riding the Magic Bullet of Title Insurance without Falling Off," Grand Rapids, Michigan (2015)
Speaker, American College of Mortgage Attorneys Conference, "Don't Be the Defendant: Understanding the Complexities of Seemingly Simple Ethical Situations," Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (2014)
Discussion leader, Real Property Law Section of State Bar of Michigan Roundtable re "Legal Opinion Letters: The Importance of Being Earnest," Crystal Mountain, Michigan (2013)
Co-chair, Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan Conference, "Redevelopment after the Great Recession, Lessons from the Sunshine and Great Lakes States," Orlando, Florida (2012)
Co-chair, Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan Conference, "The ABCs of Regulatory Reform: A Big Change," Washington, DC (2011)
Speaker, Real Property Law Section of State Bar of Michigan Conference, "Turning REDD Credits into Green Carbon," Phoenix, Arizona (2010)
Speaker, Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan Conference, "What Goes Down Must Come Up; Advising Clients about Real Estate in Michigan: After the Purchase Agreement, Issues that Arise on the Way to Closing," Traverse City, Michigan (2008)
Speaker, Lorman Seminar: Plats and Subdivision Law - Condominium Development, Grand Rapids, Michigan (2008)
- Real Estate Blog Post, June 26, 2014
- March 20, 2013
- Michigan Real Property Law Journal, Summer 2009
- Michigan Cottage Planning: A Primer on Preserving and Protecting Your Vacation Home(Collaborator), 2009
- Michigan Real Estate Practice & FormsICLE Michigan Business Formbook and ACMA National Mortgage Law Summary (Contributor, updated editions and supplements), 2004-2008
- Interpreting Commercial Landlord and Tenant Termination and Rent Abatement Rights Under New York Law After 9/11(Co-author), 2002
- WARN Act 1996 Practitioner's Guide(Contributor, statutory analysis and case law), 1996
University of Michigan Law School
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Hanover, New Hampshire
B.A., Japanese, 1995
- New York
- All Michigan state courts
- Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Judicial Department
- United States District Court for the Southern District of New York