NYREJ Publishes a Review of 2020 by Thomas Kearns

What was your greatest professional accomplishment in 2020?
Becoming an expert on representing ground lessors through hotel ground lease defaults. It required a deep knowledge of each set of complex legal documents and constant attention to executive orders and case law. At one time my group and I were representing five different fee owners with defaulted hotel ground leases. While most have been worked out, we saw others through to a litigation conclusion including a victory in the first involuntary bankruptcy filed by a leasehold mortgagee against its own borrower.

What aspects of working from home did you enjoy most?
While my commute is short by most measures, the extra hour or two every day has been a blessing.

What was the most challenging part of working during the pandemic?
Not being able to have our teams sit down together in a room and pass documents back and forth to discuss tough legal issues. I miss that collegiality and the brainstorming that went on with my colleagues.

What are your predictions for commercial real estate in 2021?
Defaults and workouts will no doubt continue deep into next year but I already see the strength of New York’s reputation giving rise to new investors looking for opportunities in the New York market.

Thomas Kearns is a partner with Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP’s real estate department, New York, N.Y.

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