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Development, Land Use and Permitting


Our Development, Land Use and Permitting team has the experience to anticipate and to identify the problems that often occur in real estate development projects and the creative ability to develop practical solutions. We understand the thinking of state and local officials, lenders, and other key players in the development process because we have represented each of these parties in different transactions.

While focused on achieving our clients' goals, we also focus on being collaborative with other parties in the development process as they often entrust us with important roles assisting in project management, coordination and strategic planning. This approach both expedites the development process and maintains good relations for future projects.

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Our Team
Members of the Nutter real estate team have been asked to assist in the drafting of local and state laws regarding land use. Since we have written local zoning ordinances and by-laws for many municipalities, we know about the unique land use concerns that relate to wetlands, stormwater, solid waste, traffic and similar issues. Our land use, permitting and development team includes:

  • Six partners who have consistently been named to the peer-reviewed “Best Lawyers in America” list
  • A partner who was selected as the Best Lawyers 2017 Land Use and Zoning Law “Lawyer of the Year” for a second time in the metropolitan Boston region
  • Ten lawyers who were named as Massachusetts Super Lawyers
  • Seven lawyers who were listed as “leaders in their field” by Chambers USA 2017
  • Lawyers who have been chosen to serve as court-appointed receivers and special masters
  • A former Chief of Staff to the Massachusetts Speaker of the House

Nutter is also:

  • Ranked as a tier one Boston firm for real estate work by S. News and World Report; and
  • Listed among the top-ranked firms in real estate in Massachusetts by the highly-regarded Chambers USA

Who We Represent
Our team understands the unique needs of clients from all sectors of the economy. Our clients include:

  • Owners and developers
  • Companies in the biotech, life sciences and health care industries
  • Colleges, universities and other educational institutions
  • Energy and power companies
  • Financial services institutions, investors and pension funds
  • Retailers
  • Manufacturers
  • Nonprofit entities involved in health care, recreation, education, religion and the arts
  • Government entities
  • Public-private partnerships
  • Redevelopment authorities

What We Do 
Our clients look to us to act as their advocates, advisors, negotiators and drafters for every aspect of their land use and development needs. They also look to us for our permitting and licensing expertise, including assistance with project coordination and management.

Typical tasks we perform in connection with development projects include:

  • Performing due diligence to identify and to solve problems at an early stage that otherwise could jeopardize a project’s success;
  • Negotiating relevant purchase and sale and other land control agreements;
  • Negotiating and drafting relevant agreements with engineers, architects, and contractors;
  • Obtaining all necessary permits and approvals from planning boards, zoning authorities, conservation commissions and other agencies or officials, including local, state and federal environmental authorities;
  • Identifying and solving environmental issues related to regulations affecting wetlands, coastal preservation, wastewater, air and water quality and hazardous materials;
  • Negotiating and drafting contract provisions pertinent to environmental exposure, worker health and safety, and related issues, including environmental insurance policies, indemnities and other risk-shifting agreements;
  • Advocating for our clients before administrative agencies, such as the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (formerly the Boston Development Authority); and
  • Negotiating and drafting all documents related to bond or other types of project-related financing.

Our clients also call on Nutter to assist them in connection with a wide array of specific types of development projects, including:

  • Mixed use development;
  • Transit-oriented;
  • Major redevelopment projects, including projects involving former military bases or abandoned industrial facilities;
  • Multi-family residential;
  • Specialized housing projects for seniors and others with special needs;
  • Office;
  • Retail, including major shopping centers and life style centers;
  • Hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities;
  • Laboratories, research and development centers for biotech and life sciences work;
  • Water and wastewater facility projects;
  • Industrial projects; and
  • Power plant projects.

When other means do not prove effective, Nutter attorneys are prepared to help our clients attain their objectives through administrative or judicial proceedings. We have had a great deal of success resolving such disputes.

Our team members have acted as effective advocates in proceedings conducted by:

  • Federal Environmental Protection Agency, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other federal and state agencies;
  • Local planning and zoning boards, conservation commissions and other municipal boards;
  • Various development and redevelopment authorities
  • Regional commissions; and
  • All levels of the judicial system, including the Massachusetts Land Court.

View Practice Team

Representative Matters

Representative Matters

  • $230 million mixed-use development for Related Beal

    Represented the full service real estate firm Related Beal on a range of complex issues involving Parcel 1B, a development project which includes the first large-scale 100 percent affordable and workforce housing development in downtown Boston in the past 25 years, as well as a 220-room hotel, ground floor retail space, and parking. Work included air rights leasing, title, acquisition, zoning, and environmental matters, as well as state and City of Boston entitlements, real estate tax stabilization, agreements, and hotel financing.

  • Represented National Development of New England in the acquisition, disposition, permitting, and financing of multiple projects in the Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts areas

    These projects have included:

    • Station Landing, Medford: Handled permitting and approvals for this mixed use transit-oriented project near Wellington Circle, just outside of Boston, as well as drafting significant amendments to the Medford Zoning Ordinance to allow the development. We also handled compliance with state environmental issues and completed a Metropolitan District Commission agreement for community benefits and project mitigation.
    • Market Street, Lynnfield: Handled Chapter 40R rezoning, Development Agreement with the Town of Lynnfield, mitigation agreements with the Town of Wakefield and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and related approvals.
    • Other projects for this client have included the Bridges of Andover, Chapter 40B residential development of Arbor Point at Woodland Station in Newton, Forge Park in Franklin, Fort Point Channel in Boston, MetroNorth Business Center in Woburn, Lake Williams Corporate Center in Marlborough, Blueview Corporate Center in Canton, Mansfield Corporate Center in Mansfield and New England Business Center in Andover.
  • Complex development project, including drafting of new zoning for Hebrew Senior Life

    Drafting new zoning for overlay district, defending the value against judicial challenge, and securing approval from the local planning board, conservation commission, county commissioner, water district and environmental impact statement reviews for Hebrew SeniorLife’s 160 acre intergenerational campus in Dedham, Massachusetts. 

  • Permitting and land use litigation

    Permitting and land use litigation of numerous projects for National Development of New England, including, most recently, the Bridges in Andover.

  • Contractual and permitting work

    Contractual and permitting work for the Pearson Education/Addison Wesley campus in Reading, Massachusetts, including adoption of 40R zoning and sale of the campus.

  • Development of regional transportation facility within federal superfund site

    Land assembly, public entity formation and development of a regional commuter rail, bus and MassDOT facility within a federal superfund site, involving brownfield redevelopment agreements with state and federal agencies.

  • Development of transportation center for regional transportation agency

    Developed parking garage, commuter rail and regional bus transportation center with retail space for regional transportation agency and Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority.

  • Development of waterfront hotels, restaurants and marinas

    Obtained state and local approvals for several projects, including a waterfront hotel, waterfront restaurants, marina redevelopment and other commercial and water-dependent uses. These activities included adjudicatory proceedings and judicial review of state permits and licenses.

  • Drafted the governing agreements for the permitting of mixed-use development projects

    Drafted the governing agreements for the permitting of mixed-use development projects on public authority owned properties in South Boston and East Boston.

  • Phoenix Property Company/Lincoln Property Company

    Nutter represents a joint venture between Phoenix Property Company /Lincoln Property Company and an institutional investor in the permitting and transactional aspects of a large, complex, multi-party residential/hotel/retail mixed-use project with underground garage to be constructed on the land known as Parcel K, owned by the Massachusetts Port Authority, that is located in the Seaport District in Boston. The Project will consist of a 12-story apartment building with 304 apartments, a 12-story, 294-room hotel, office and retail space in both towers and a 1-level underground garage. Our work leading up to the initial closing involved the negotiation of:  the acquisition of the Project development rights from a prior developer; the joint venture between Phoenix Property Company/Lincoln Property Company and an institutional investor; the transfer of the hotel development rights to a joint venture between Hyatt Hotels Corporation and a hotel operator; multiple ground leases with Massport for the separate Project components; a construction loan with JPMorgan Chase, N.A. as lead lender; and a complex reciprocal easement agreement among the different Project components; as well as addressing complex permitting and title issues (including the creation of multiple air rights parcels).   

  • Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT)

    We represent FRIT in the permitting of several new phases of the large, transit-oriented, mixed-use project called Assembly Row in Somerville, Mass., including negotiation of a creative approach with the Planning Board to meet the City’s new inclusionary affordable housing requirements through a combination of on-site units and cash payments over time to a community-based non-profit organization which purchases and preserves existing affordable housing in established neighborhoods near schools, shopping, and transit.

  • First Church of Christ, Scientist

    Representation of The First Church of Christ, Scientist in the disposition via both deed and ground lease of multiple properties in Back Bay, Boston, and advice regarding permitting aspects of significant improvements to the Plaza and other Church-retained property.

  • Malden Mills Complex in Lawrence and Methuen, Massachusetts

    Assisted Lubert-Adler and Versa in their acquisition out of bankruptcy of the Malden Mills property in Lawrence and Methuen, including all permitting, and environmental analyses, and subsequent multiple dispositions of real estate assets, including complex title, permitting and subdivision matters.

  • Obtained state permits and approvals for the mixed-use development on the South Boston Waterfront

    Obtained state permits and approvals for a mixed-use development on the South Boston Waterfront, containing restaurants, offices and transient boating slips.

  • Obtained permits and approvals for major marine and air freight terminal within a Designated Port Area in Boston

    Obtained permits and approvals for major marine and air freight terminal within a Designated Port Area in Boston. Representation included successful defense of administrative and judicial appeals.

  • Represented regional transit authority with development

    Represented Regional Transit Authority in connection with the development of a parking garage serving MassDOT commuter rail station and housing development in downtown Haverhill.

  • Represented a local redevelopment authority in connection with redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station

    Represented a local redevelopment authority in connection with redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station, successfully handling the drafting of a revised Reuse Plan and zoning by-laws; the negotiation of a Disposition and Development Agreement with the master developer; the acquisition of roughly 550 acres of land for economic development purposes and 225 acres for recreational and open space purposes; the resolution of issues pertinent to CERCLA, M.G.L. Chapter 21E, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act; and the drafting and adoption of regulations necessary to implement the revised Reuse Plan and revised zoning by-laws.

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