Main Menu

Real Estate, Development and Construction


Acquisition, financing, development, management, leasing, saleVarnum’s Real Estate Practice Team counsels clients on all matters relating to real estate. Whether a property is commercial, industrial or residential development, our real estate attorneys know the issues and the law.

Our clientswhether they develop real estate as their primary business or occupy real estate in connection with their primary businessesinclude real estate developers, investors, contractors, management companies, architects, lenders and companies and institutions with real estate facilities.

For more information, please contact either your Varnum attorney, or Melissa Papke at 616/336-6425 or

With our broad base of experience in real estate matters, we provide guidance in:

  • Acquisitions, dispositions and exchanges
  • Commercial and industrial leasing
  • Land use, development and zoning
  • Environmental law
  • Construction law
  • Licensing and regulatory matters
  • Financing and tax abatement
  • Litigation and arbitration
  • Condominium developments
  • Residential developments

Part of our real estate work involves representing real estate developers and investors. Another part of our work involves representing businesses and institutions for whom real estate is not primary but is necessary to their operations. Thanks to Varnum’s team approach, we can call on experts in municipal and environmental law to address regulatory issues arising from acquisitions and development transactions.

For example, we work with zoning and land use planning matters of all kinds, including rezonings, variances, special uses and other administrative approvals, planned unit developments, land use planning advice and litigation in the trial and appellate courts when municipal actions are challenged.

We also handle contract drafting and negotiating for projects, including leases, purchase and sale agreements, master deeds for condominium projects, installment purchase contracts and sale/leaseback agreements.

In a related area, we offer loan documentation services (negotiation, documentation and closing of commercial and real estate loans) for banks and other financial institutions.

Environmental Risk Analysis

Varnum’s risk analysis service helps clients evaluate potential environmental concerns associated with the purchase or sale of a business or real estate. We perform specific types of review and analysis of environmental due diligence documentation, including Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments, baseline environmental assessments (BEA) and environmental compliance audit reports. 

Our attorneys are experienced in federal and state due diligence requirements and industry standards. Our due diligence, land use permitting and real estate development experience includes:

  • Counsel concerning environmental assessments prior to acquisition of new properties or lending associated with real estate and ongoing operations (recently conducted environmental assessments/audits for international merger of 100 facilities in six weeks)
  • Assessment of statutory and regulatory criteria required for an extensive range of industrial developments, including brownfield redevelopment and financing
  • Representation of developers seeking wetlands, sand dunes, floodplains and other natural resources permits, as well as site remediation
  • U.S. EPA prospective purchaser agreement for National Priorities List Superfund site redevelopment
  • Guidance to financial institutions on environmental “lender liability” issues for loans, foreclosures and workouts, and defense of such claims

Brownfield Financing and Redevelopment

Varnum has extensive experience in redevelopment of contaminated brownfield sites and in pursuing available federal, state and local brownfield financing. We guide clients through the often complex array of brownfield regulations and facilitate redevelopment projects that are completed in a timely, cost-effective manner. 

Additionally, our attorneys are well-versed in assessing risks relating to the foreclosure of contaminated sites.


Varnum’s finance lawyers document various types of loan transactions, from under $1 million to over $100 million. We have extensive experience in projects including mortgage financing, working capital lines of credit, agricultural loans, small business loans, construction loans and government-guaranteed credits. 

We negotiate different types of security interests with all types of collateral and with credit issues such as creditor participation, intercreditor agreements, loan subordinations and other credit structures. We handle a variety of commercial lending matters, from the preparation of loan documents to providing advice regarding regulatory compliance issues. This includes issues arising under the Federal Truth-in-Lending laws, RESPA, fair lending laws and other federal and state regulatory matters.

At Varnum, we are continually working to maintain the trust of our clients and to address their changing service needs. This attention to detail helps our clients focus on building their business.

News & Publications



Back to Page
{ footer Image }