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Naperville, IL 60563

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630-778-3818

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_540240925.jpgReal estate developers and investors will typically have multiple opportunities to pursue projects involving commercial real estate which may include retail, industrial, office and various mixed-use developments. A development project will typically involve the construction of on-site and off-site improvements, the construction of new buildings or structures, and a variety of other changes that will allow a property owner to generate revenue by leasing space to commercial tenants. However, when planning to purchase commercial property or begin a development project, owners and investors will need to understand how zoning laws will apply to them and their options for addressing any issues that may affect their ability to carry out their plans.  Any mistakes with this process can be very costly and fatal to a project.  The zoning and land use attorneys at Lindell & Tessitore P.C. have extensive experience in helping buyers and owners navigate through the zoning and development process, including, but not limited to, due diligence matters and in seeking to obtain all zoning and development entitlements needed for the zoning or development project. 

Local Zoning and Land Use Laws

A municipality will have a number of zoning and subdivision ordinances that affect how different types of property can be used. These ordinances will typically designate certain zoning classifications within a city on their Official Zoning Map and Comprehensive Plan where properties can be used for certain commercial purposes. The zoning ordinances will place restrictions on the types of buildings that can be built, the types of businesses that can operate in a certain zoning district setting various bulk standards for each zoning district, and many other issues that will impact development and the use of a property. The following are just some of the various zoning issues to be mindful of during due diligence and zoning reviews for a development project: 

  • Lot coverage and floor area ratio (FAR) - Lot coverage refers to the size of a building’s footprint as compared to the square footage of the property. Floor area ratio refers to the total square footage of a building (including on multiple floors) as compared to the size of the property. Restrictions may be placed on these figures to limit the size of buildings.
  • Setback - A city may impose certain requirements on the distance between a building and the property lot lines, as well as the amount of space that must be provided between buildings on neighboring properties.  Setbacks will typically be imposed for front yard, side yards and rear yard.  If next to a residential zoned area, additional setback requirements may be imposed as well.  Also, a city may have separate setback requirements for parking spaces and additional setbacks if there are flood plain areas or wetlands located on the property.
  • Parking -  A municipality will typically require a commercial property to include a certain number of off-street parking spaces based on the size of a building and amount of employees onsite. Depending on the type of establishment, different ratios may be used, such as requiring five parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of an office building by way of example
  • Safety features - Building codes will usually require commercial establishments to have emergency exits and fire escapes. Other safety features may also be required, such as sprinkler systems or the inclusion of fire extinguishers throughout a building.
  • Allowed uses of property - Different types of property may have permitted uses allowing certain types of business to be conducted. Conditional use or special use permits may also allow for exceptions to the permitted uses of a property. In cases where zoning laws are modified in a certain area, nonconforming uses of a property may be allowed for establishments that were in place prior to the change.  Some municipalities can limit a property to one primary use which can be a problem if a buyer intends to use a property for multiple uses.  
  • Variances.  When building setback, height, FAR or other zoning requirements are needed to be varied for a development project, variances can be requested from the municipality.  
  • Stormwater detention.  Depending on the amount of impervious surface to be added to a new development the municipality will require that stormwater detention be provided onsite or off-site.  Typically, more than 25,000 square feet of impervious surface added will trigger stormwater requirements for a project.  Stormwater requirements are typically met by providing wet or dry detention onsite or piping the stormwater offsite to a permitted tributary or detention pond.  
  • Planned Unit Development.  In situations where a number of variances are required for a zoning project it is usually best to submit a petition with the applicable municipality requesting a Planned Unit Development.  A Planned Unit Development has less strict requirements than a formal variance process which is typically much more difficult to obtain municipal approval because of the many standards that have to be proven at the zoning hearing.  Planned Unit Developments provide more flexibility for a Development Project.  

Contact Our Naperville Commercial Real Estate Attorney

Understanding how zoning laws may affect a commercial real estate development project can be a complex undertaking. Developers and Investors will need to make sure their proposed project will be in compliance with these laws, and if necessary, will need a zoning attorney to help apply for the most suitable zoning relief needed for the project which may include rezoning, variances, planned unit developments, special use or conditional use permits. Lindell & Tessitore P.C. can provide legal help with these matters, and we will work to protect the rights and interests of property owners and developers.  Lindell and Tessitore P.C. can also help with matters of due diligence for a development project.  Contact a DuPage County real estate development lawyer at 630-778-3818 to set up a consultation and learn more about our legal services.

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DuPage County commercial real estate lawyer for landlords and tenantsWhether you are the owner of a commercial real estate property, or you are looking to rent a space for your business, reaching an agreement on a commercial lease is a crucial part of your operation. There are a variety of lease structures available depending on the property's use and the preferences of both the landlord and tenant. The complexities of these different kinds of commercial leases can be challenging to interpret, but an experienced real estate attorney can help you determine the best options and negotiate a lease that addresses your needs.

Types of Commercial Leases in Illinois

Commercial leases vary based on the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of both the landlord and the tenant. Some of the most common types of commercial leases include:

  • Gross lease: In a gross or full service lease, the tenant pays rent while the landlord handles all expenses related to the property, including property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. Rents are typically higher with a gross lease, but the tenant benefits from the convenience of the services the landlord provides.
  • Triple net lease: In a triple net lease, the tenant pays rent and also takes responsibility for the three net costs associated with a commercial property, which are insurance, property taxes, and common area maintenance. This arrangement removes work and some expenses from the property owner, but it usually also means that rent is lower.
  • Master lease: A master lease allows the tenant to sublease the property and collect income from rent. As a tenant, you might attempt to negotiate for a master lease if you are considering purchasing the property outright in the future.
  • Ground lease: A ground lease allows the tenant to rent and develop a plot of land, and it is commonly used for franchise businesses. Tenants are able to save money up-front because they do not have to purchase the property, and landlords are able to receive rental income throughout the term of the lease.
  • Sale-leaseback: A commercial property owner may arrange to sell the property and then lease it from the buyer. This can be a good option for owners who need an immediate source of income but wish to continue using a property for business purposes.

Contact a DuPage County Commercial Lease Attorney

At Lindell & Tessitore, P.C., we have worked with owners and tenants on all manner of commercial leases throughout our years of real estate law experience. We can help you understand the various lease options and make sure they are executed properly in your lease agreement. Contact a Naperville commercial real estate lawyer today at 630-778-3818.

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Naperville business contracts lawyer for force majeureA construction project often involves many moving pieces, including supplies, equipment, various contractors and their employees, negotiations with the city over zoning regulations, and more. Even under normal circumstances, it can be challenging to ensure that you are upholding all of the details of your construction contract, and it may be impossible during an unprecedented event like the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time like this, it is important to review your contracts to determine whether they include a force majeure clause that can provide relief.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Construction Projects

COVID-19 and its effects may make it difficult or impossible to fulfill your obligations as a construction contractor for several possible reasons, including:

  • Supply shortages: The pandemic may have interrupted the production or distribution of building and construction materials that are necessary to complete a project.
  • Project delays: Stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders in the first few months of the pandemic may have delayed the start of a construction project.
  • Self-isolation of employees: Employees isolating or quarantining for their own safety or because they have tested positive for the virus may lead to labor shortages that slow the progress of a project.
  • Social distancing precautions: In order to maintain safe social distancing at worksites,  you may need to make adjustments to complete your project with smaller work crews.
  • Cash flow issues: The economic impact of COVID-19 may have led to the cancellation of some projects or difficulty in acquiring new ones. Resulting losses in income may make it harder to complete current projects.

Pursuing Relief Through a Force Majeure Clause

If you are struggling with any of these issues, you may be able to seek relief from your contractual obligations if your contract includes a force majeure clause, which can account for the possibility of unpredictable and uncontrollable acts of nature or people. The COVID-19 pandemic may qualify as one of these acts, but it can depend on the language in your contract. For example, you may be more likely to obtain relief if the contract specifically lists pandemics in the force majeure clause. You will also likely need to demonstrate that your inability to fulfill the contract is specifically due to the pandemic. Depending on the language in your contract, you may be able to receive an extension on the project, additional compensation for increased expenses, or total release from your contractual obligations.

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DuPage County Real Estate attorney for zoning lawsIn the business of commercial real estate, it can often be beneficial to purchase a property that has already been developed, rather than starting a new development project from scratch. Perhaps a developed property is located in the perfect place for your purposes, and you may even find that you can adapt existing structures to your needs. However, chances are that you will need to make some changes, either through a renovation or a complete redevelopment, and if so, you should be aware of zoning regulations that may impact your project.

Zoning Regulations in an Illinois Commercial Real Estate Renovation

You may find that you can adapt a new property to meet your needs by renovating structures that have already been built. A renovation may help you save time that you would need to spend on demolition, construction, and rezoning, but in most cases, you will still need to pay attention to zoning regulations in the local municipality that affect the development. For example, you may need to ensure that your renovation complies with local health, safety, and energy efficiency standards. You will also likely need to ensure that the property is authorized for use as the kind of business that will be operated there.

Planning for Zoning Regulations in Your Redevelopment

Unlike a renovation, a redevelopment often requires you to demolish existing structures and initiate a new construction project. Because you are planning to implement more drastic changes, you may be more likely to encounter zoning challenges. You will need to look into the zoning regulations at the time the property was originally developed, as well as any changes in the subsequent years.

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Illinois CRE lawyersDue diligence is a critical step in the acquisition of a property, especially for those dealing in commercial real estate. Done effectively, the process can protect you from lengthy project delays, zoning issues, and other negative consequences. In contrast, failures in your due diligence process may lead to extreme financial loss and an overall poor return on investment. Learn how to avoid mistakes and oversights in your due diligence with these crucial facts.

You Need to Spend Time at the Property 

Far too often, investors rely on the “experts” to handle the due diligence process. They hire an inspector but do not attend the inspection, contact someone to value the property but are not present during the valuation process, and rely on reports to tell them whether the building is up to code. Sadly, this is a massive mistake.

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