"The firm routinely exceeds expectations." Client quotation as published in Chambers USA


More than 30 lawyers strong, our Real Estate Development (RED) team is a collaborative group of land use, real estate, environmental and construction law professionals who have extensive experience representing companies in significant real estate developments – both public and private projects – including major mixed-use, office, infrastructure, manufacturing, multi-family, retail, natural resource and public utility projects. From project concept and development to completion, our team of real estate development lawyers counsel clients through every stage of a project. 

Built on Trust®

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business has recognized our Real Estate Development practice and its lawyers as among the best in the state, making Smith Anderson one of the select few law firms in North Carolina to be awarded its highest ranking. Our lawyers and practices are recognized in areas including: Real Estate; Construction; Land Use & Zoning; Real Estate: Finance; and Environmental. 

Clients who were interviewed by Chambers have described our lawyers as “inventive in coming up with solutions,” demonstrating “impressive depth of knowledge” and “extremely detailed and thorough”. The group’s expertise and experience has also resulted in rankings from other industry publications that include U.S. News - Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms,” The Best Lawyers in America®, North Carolina Super Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation and Martindale-Hubbell®.

We are honored by the trust placed in us by owners, investors, lenders, sureties, developers, design professionals, contractors, construction companies, landlords and tenants throughout the Southeast who rely on our expertise.

Teamwork Built on Cohesive Collaboration

We have assembled a comprehensive range of Real Estate Development practices under one cohesive group, designed to serve clients through all phases of a project. Our RED Group includes legal professionals who work together across multiple related areas: 

  • Land Use and Zoning – We assist clients in navigating legislative, regulatory and political processes to select and acquire sites and successfully obtain entitlements and permits.
  • Commercial Real Estate – Our lawyers advise on all aspects of buying, selling and financing real estate, as well as ownership and development strategies for real estate development and investment. 
  • Construction, Construction Litigation and Infrastructure – We counsel owners, contractors and design firms to guide them through all stages of design and construction, from bidding and contracting to contract administration and claim avoidance and, if needed, dispute resolution, including litigation, arbitration and mediation.
  • Leasing – We have a national practice assisting clients regarding retail, office and industrial leases. 
  • Environmental and OSHA – We are experienced in analyzing complex environmental and regulatory issues and developing compliance and risk management strategies for our clients. 
  • Real Estate Litigation – Our group’s litigators focus on the resolution of real estate related disputes and advise and assist our clients in contracting, risk identification and evaluation, risk avoidance, and pre-litigation and litigation strategies.
  • Energy and Renewable Energy – We advise on the financing, contracting, siting, permitting, construction, operation and regulation of traditional (natural gas and coal), as well as renewable energy facilities.
  • Right of Way Acquisition & Condemnation We represent utility companies and municipalities in acquisitions by condemnation or settlement land, water and sewer easements. 


  • Corporate headquarters and expansion projects
  • Office, retail and mixed-use centers as well as regional shopping malls and big box development
  • Public infrastructure projects such as light rail, airport, power plants and highway construction
  • Hi-tech manufacturing and pharmaceutical facilities
  • Sustainable single- and multi-family residential developments
  • Planned unit developments and coastal golf course communities


Commercial Real Estate

  • Representation of developer of signature Charlotte office tower in negotiation of anchor lease and major tenant leases
  • Representation of large southeastern convenience store company in acquisitions of numerous convenience store businesses throughout the southeast
  • Representation of national banks in connection with acquisition, development and construction financing
  • Representation of insurance companies in connection with permanent financing
  • Representation of major contract research organization in lease negotiations throughout the world
  • Representation of large fast food restaurant franchisee in acquisition and financing of existing restaurants and sites for development of new restaurants
  • Representation of major restaurant industry food and merchandise distributor in negotiation of warehouse leases throughout the United States
  • Representation of shopping center owner in connection with refinancing of debt on numerous shopping center properties in Research Triangle Park area
  • Representation of national bank in sale/leaseback of 100 branch bank sites in the Southeast
  • Representation of private equity real estate fund in acquisition, disposition and leasing of retail and hotel assets nationwide
  • Representation of major pharmaceutical company in the sale and leaseback of office and laboratory campus in Research Triangle Park area

Construction and Public Infrastructure

  • Representation of national contractor in successful bid dispute resulting in award to client of contract for North Carolina's first light rail project
  • Representation of prime contractor on bid and all other legal issues related to North Carolina's first Turnpike Authority highway construction project ($400 million I-540 extension project)
  • Representation of large pharmaceutical company in connection with construction and development of its world headquarters located in Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina
  • Representation of national prime contractor on risk management and claims issue related to $480 million airport terminal project
  • Representation of municipality in connection with claims and litigation involving $110 million island-wide sewer system project
  • Representation of developer in state court litigation involving construction defect claims in a 140-unit town home complex
  • Representation of Fortune 500 company on design-build engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement for construction of "next generation" nuclear power plant project estimated at $4 billion
  • Representation of large medical practice on design-build agreement for construction of $20 million medical facility
  • Representation of international contractor in litigation with government prime contractor arising from performance of the Communications Sector Design/Build Services IDIQ Project in Iraq
  • Representation of pre-cast concrete subcontractor in federal court litigation involving a $40 million state prison construction project
  • Representation of national contractor on bid issues and claims arising from a $140 million state and federal interstate highway project

Land Use & Zoning

  • Representation of a national real estate developer in obtaining zoning and land use approvals and environmental permits for a regional shopping mall of 1.6 million square feet and peripheral retail and office developments
  • Representation of the owner/developer of a 1,000 acre land assemblage in drafting ordinances establishing a new zoning district for Sustainable Mixed-Use Development which was adopted by the City Council and, thereafter, in the rezoning of the assemblage to the new zoning district, which incorporates urban densities and form-based zoning principles
  • Representation of a national REIT in the heavily-contested successful rezoning of residentially-zoned property subsequently developed as a 900,000 square foot office park; several years later, a second rezoning case achieved approval for mixed-use retail throughout the park
  • Representation of a national real estate developer in rezoning and quasi-judicial approvals for a mid-rise, 250-residential unit mixed-use project
  • Representation of an international soft drink company in successfully blocking approval on two separate occasions of a 1,000-acre residential development proposed adjacent to the company's regional bottling and distribution facility
  • Representation of a developer in drafting ordinances enabling redevelopment of nonconforming uses within a restricted reservoir watershed area and, after adoption of the ordinances by the County Commission, obtained approval of the only shopping center developed within the protected area since its establishment more than 20 years ago
  • Representation of a national developer in achieving governmental approval and funding for an urban interstate interchange to serve a mixed-use project of hundreds of acres
  • Representation of regional and national clients in a number of successful quasi-judicial proceedings approving projects as varied as quarries, waste management and landfill facilities, shopping centers and regional fuel terminals
  • Representation of owners and developers in litigation, including appellate proceedings, successfully achieving and defending rezonings, special use permits and vested rights
  • Representation of owners/developers in obtaining all land use approvals for an extensive mixed-use commercial development that includes large retail and home improvement stores, a 22-screen cinema, restaurants, a food store and a 400-unit apartment complex

Environmental and OSHA

  • Due diligence investigations and compliance audits
  • Real estate and business transactions, including contractual allocation of environmental risks and liabilities
  • Enforcement action defense, including citations and civil penalty assessments
  • Internal investigations and crisis management due to workplace fatalities, industrial accidents, chemical and petroleum product spills and worker safety complaints
  • Environmental and administrative litigation, including Superfund, RCRA, insurance coverage disputes and toxic torts
  • Petroleum marketing and convenience store industry issues, including underground storage tank compliance and State Trust Fund eligibility
  • Permitting, approvals and regulatory clarifications
  • NPDES, Section 404/401 and storm water permitting; construction and development involving water rights, wetlands, streams, riparian buffers, shorelines and erosion control
  • Air quality, including indoor air quality and mold issues, as well as mining and dam safety
  • OSHA compliance including hazard communication, confined space entry, lockout/tagout, fall protection, personal protective equipment (PPE), recordkeeping and process safety management
  • Brownfields redevelopment, site remediation and transfers of contaminated property and assets
  • Legislative and agency advocacy before N.C. General Assembly, NCDENR, NCDOL-Occupational Safety and Health Division and various administrative boards
  • Monitor and analyze legislation for our clients, network with legislators and agency regulators and participate in government meetings and hearings
  • Climate change, renewable energy and sustainability disclosure analysis and contract regulations

Real Estate Litigation

Litigation Between Buyers and Sellers of Commercial Real Estate

  • Obtained an order granting specific performance requiring defendant seller to convey a downtown tract of land to client purchaser
  • Successful defense of landowner sued by a buyer asserting a multi-million-dollar damages claim in connection with an agreement to sell a 17-acre tract to be developed as a shopping center

Litigation Involving Commercial Real Estate Leases

  • Represented national retail chain and obtained a mandatory injunction requiring its landlord to deliver documents to governing municipality so that it could issue a Certificate of Occupancy that was needed for plaintiff to open its retail store
  • Represented landowner in dispute concerning its tenant's failure to construct a power plant on the leased property. Negotiated termination of 60-year lease and power purchase agreement

Land Use and Zoning Litigation

  • Represented developer-intervenor in defending commercial rezoning of property and resolution of issues related to the city's comprehensive plan
  • Represented developer-lessee in defense of approval of site plan for industrial facility

Special Proceedings

  • Litigated cartway action and obtained access for petitioner's landlocked seven-acre tract
  • Obtained partition of property owned by tenants in common

Eminent Domain/Condemnation

  • Represented several utility companies in acquiring by condemnation or settlement more than 1,000 miles of easements and fee-owned property for electric transmission lines and natural gas pipelines in more than 30 counties in North Carolina
  • Represented municipalities in acquiring by condemnation or settlement water and sewer easements





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