Land Use & Development Regulatory Law

Keevican Weiss & Bauerle LLC lawyers have extensive experience helping owners, developers, lenders, and tenants design projects that work. Our lawyers handle the delicate balance between public and private interests, control the governmental process, and clear the way for profitable development in the face of stringent environmental and zoning requirements. Our familiarity with the many government agencies involved in the development process enables us to plan preemptively for issues that might otherwise present obstacles — zoning, permitting, municipal services, highway access, and so forth. We also draw on lawyers skilled in other disciplines, marshalling expertise to handle issues that arise involving environmental impact, construction dynamics, and coal and mineral rights.

  • As special development counsel, we represented a major Pittsburgh-based developer in all stages of an $80 million mixed retail and office development involving redevelopment of a former industrial site. Included as part of the representation was negotiation and implementation of all land use planning arrangements.
  • We structured and implemented all aspects of the redevelopment of a North Side industrial facility into a multi-tenant, multi-use development, including street vacations, assemblage of contiguous parcels of land, and negotiation of condemnation arrangements and post-construction leases of property with PennDot.

Site Acquisition

Site acquisition is frequently the most sensitive stage in a development. Our lawyers’ decades of experience in the region means they are familiar with most potential sites. In some cases, the same site has been bought or sold by lawyers in our office on several occasions. Confidentiality is critical to the site acquisition process. We have regularly represented site acquirers without the seller discerning our client’s identity.

  • As special development counsel to a municipal authority, we worked with a major manufacturing corporation to assemble eight downtown city blocks for a new headquarters building. A retail mall developer wanted to assemble close to 200 acres for a new facility along a new highway without the competition knowing its game plan.
  • As counsel to an undisclosed principal, we bought, or took under option, 175 acres of land in five separate parcels without publicity or rumor.

Project Development Agreements

Perhaps the least glamorous stage of any project is preparation and negotiation of project development agreements. The success of this stage is vital if the project is to run smoothly later with a minimum of disputes. Our lawyers master the details and make sure all of the pieces fit together while keeping in view the client’s overall game plan.

  • As developer’s counsel for the largest Western Pennsylvania residential golf course development, we completed $17 million debt and equity financing, structured land use planning and environmental programs, and negotiated arrangements for infrastructure systems.
  • Assisting the developers of a ten-building office development, we structured and completed the sale of a one-half interest in the project to one of the nation’s largest developers.


No project works without a successful financing plan.

Our lawyers’ experience in the field enables us to develop financing alternatives. Our familiarity with the closely knit community of real estate lenders means our clients’ lenders are comfortable dealing with familiar parties. We have been retained as special real estate counsel by lenders from Boston to California on projects as diverse as a 65-story office building and industrial manufacturing plants. Further, our long-standing ties to local, state, and regional economic development agencies often enable us to add a favorably priced financing component.

  • At 7 a.m. on the last day of the year, an international lender financing a local project, called with an urgent local tax question that was stalling a key project financing. We turned around the research and analysis by mid-afternoon and the deal closed before midnight.
  • Representing lenders or developers, we have completed real estate financings aggregating nearly $200 million in the last several years. Uses of proceeds ranged from construction financing to permanent financing to renovation and restoration funding.

Post Construction Issues

After the dust settles, the challenge of project development is often only half over. Final construction issues must be resolved, tenants located and signed and long-term property management issues addressed. Our lawyers approach these issues with one goal in mind: maximize asset value for our clients. Our construction claims lawyers are experts in utilizing alternative dispute resolution programs and minitrials to dispense with construction claims in an expeditious and cost-effective fashion. Our real estate lawyers have extensive backgrounds in leasing and management issues that enable us to negotiate leasing and management contracts with a minimum of complications.

  • Faulty design of a building left our client with a bad building and a $5 million claim against the architects and engineers. We fought for and won an award for the full $5 million.
  • Following renovation of a tenant’s business offices, the tenant sought damages from the landlord for alleged faulty work and delay. We defended the landlord’s claim in arbitration and soundly defeated the tenant’s claim.
  • Signage variances from City of Pittsburgh zoning authorities necessary to permit erection of exterior signs were essential to the expansion of a substantial retail operation. We petitioned for the variances and they were granted.


Donald E. Ambrose

Financial Services & Energy Law