Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Simon Properties' Goodwin Procter Law Firm Connection

As Goodwin Procter’s website notes, besides being a member of the Brookline Massachusetts Zoning Board of Appeals in recent years, “Larry Kaplan, a partner in the firm’s Real Estate Capital Markets Group, represents institutions, owners, developers and tenants during the permitting, acquisition and financing process;” and “also has served as real estate counsel to the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority” (which is currently part of MassDevelopment, the state finance and development authority on whose board of directors Boston Zoning Commission member Jay Hurley, coincidentally, also sits).

So, not surprisingly, “Goodwin’s real estate deal team included partner Lawrence Kaplan” when “a team of Goodwin Procter attorneys served as advisors to Copley Place Associates, LLC, an affiliate of Goodwin’s client Simon Properties Group, on the negotiation of an air rights lease” that was signed by Massachusetts Gov. Patrick on June 20, 2011 (according to a June 28, 2011 Goodwin Procter press release)—in an apparent attempt to provide a legal cover for Simon Properties’ proposed Copley Place Reconstruction/Luxury Skyscraper building project in the Back Bay/South End section of Boston.

In its June 28, 2011 press release, Kaplan’s corporate law firm claims that “the new agreement supersedes the client’s existing air rights lease for Copley Place which was entered into in the late 1970s”( that apparently required 25% of all residential units constructed on the Copley Place project site between 1978 and 2077 to be affordable at all times to low-income or low-income/moderate-income households; and apparently required any new construction after 15 years on a reconstructed Copley Place project site to be subject to the affirmative action and community benefit provisions and use restrictions regarding jobs and housing that were incorporated into the late 1970s lease).

Yet according to the June 20, 2011 “Notice of Lease Agreement” which Gov. Patrick signed “this Notice of Lease …does not purport to include all of the terms thereof, and is not intended or deemed to amend, supplement, or vary any of the terms and provisions of the lease;” and “in the event of any conflict or inconsistency between the Lease and this Notice of Lease, the provisions of the Lease shall govern and control.”

Besides having sat on Brookline’s Zoning Board of Appeals in recent years and having been the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority’s real estate counsel in the past, Goodwin Procter “real estate deal team” member Kaplan also gave Boston Mayor Menino’s campaign committee two contributions, totaling $1,000, between 2005 and 2008, according to data posted on the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance [MA OCPF] website.

In addition, between 2005 and late 2011, nearly $40,000 in campaign contributions were made to the campaign committees of either Boston Mayor Menino, Massachusetts Gov. Patrick or Massachusetts Attorney General Coakley by partners or employees of the Goodwin Procter law firm that is now representing the private, special interests of the Indianapolis-based Simon Properties Group, in its Copley Place Reconstruction project “real estate deal.” Between 2005 and late 2011, for example, Mayor Menino’s campaign committee was given $12,600, Gov. Patrick’s campaign committee was given $13,600 and Attorney General Coakley’s campaign committee was given $13,700 by Goodwin Procter partners or employees—nearly all of whom do not live in either the Back Bay or South End neighborhoods into which Simon Properties wishes to push its 47-story “Neiman Marcus Tower” luxury skyscraper construction project.

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