Matthew J. Lawlor

Partner

  • Overview

    Biography

    Matthew Lawlor focuses his practice on real estate disposition for public agencies, affordable housing finance, development, permitting, land use, and urban planning matters. He regularly represents public authorities and agencies, lenders, developers, nonprofit organizations, and commercial landlords and tenants. In addition to his law degree, he has a master’s degree in regional planning. Mr. Lawlor is a member of the firm’s Real Estate + Development Group.

    Real Estate Disposition for Public Agencies

    Mr. Lawlor represents municipal and state agencies in the disposition of real property for development and redevelopment. He drafts, negotiates, and closes on long-term ground leases and related documentation.

    Mr. Lawlor has assisted clients such as municipal and state development agencies in real estate-related matters, including successfully drafting, negotiating and closing on long-term ground leases for construction of a new hotel in Roxbury and a new regional light industrial contractor’s headquarters in South Boston, Massachusetts.

    Affordable Housing Finance

    Mr. Lawlor represents major lenders in affordable housing financing for the construction and major rehabilitation of residential developments. This representation includes drafting all construction loan documentation, undertaking legal due diligence, and closing the loan transactions.

    Mr. Lawlor has handled numerous affordable housing finance transactions on behalf of a major national bank, including for a public housing redevelopment in East Boston, Massachusetts, and for the rehabilitation of several public housing developments in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Development, Permitting, and Land Use

    Mr. Lawlor represents non-profit and for-profit developers, and public agencies on development, permitting, and land use aspects of mixed-use and transit-oriented development. This representation includes negotiating acquisition and development documentation, and providing advice and conducting due diligence related to permitting. He assists clients with obtaining all required permits and approvals for their projects. He drafts and negotiates construction and permanent loan documentation and joint venture agreements.

    Mr. Lawlor has handled long-term ground leases of new development, and obtained permits and development rights for developers of large-scale, mixed-use projects. He successfully obtained permits for a 27-unit residential transit-oriented development for a community development organization. For a corporate client, he negotiated a preferred equity investment in a major residential development adjacent to the central railroad station in Providence, Rhode Island. Mr. Lawlor frequently presents at urban planning and real estate industry conferences on the topics of land use regulation, New Urbanism, and smart growth.

    Pro Bono

    Mr. Lawlor has long-standing pro bono commitments. He serves as pro bono counsel for the Congress for the New Urbanism/New England Chapter, a smart growth and active mobility advocacy group. He also regularly provides advice on permitting, acquisition, financing, and corporate matters for the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation, a non-profit development organization, on a pro bono basis.

    Before attending law school, Mr. Lawlor worked for Comsis Corporation in Silver Spring, Maryland, as a consulting transportation planner for local and state governments.
     

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

      • Represented developer designated by municipality for large mixed-use, transit-oriented development in the Boston area to include over 900 residential units, a 125-room hotel, and 187,000 square feet of retail, office, and cultural uses and structured parking for 2,000+ cars, all arranged around a public plaza and with enhanced access to the adjacent transit station.

      • Represented developer involved in the land use permitting of a proposed 50-unit residential and retail condominium development to be located on a former auto service station less than one-fourth of a mile from an MBTA commuter rail station in a western suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.
      • Represented developer of multiunit condominium project in the Allston neighborhood of Boston in successful proceedings before the Boston Landmarks Commission under the city's demolition delay ordinance. Developer ultimately obtained demolition permit and avoided landmarking petition by neighbors.
      • Represented hotel owner/operator in obtaining necessary municipal approvals for a major interior renovation of a property located in Boston’s recently adopted Groundwater Conservation Overlay District.
      • Represented national self-storage company in obtaining necessary local approvals for location of moving vehicle rental at an existing facility in a Boston suburb.
      • Represented a major real estate investment trust in land use permitting analysis in connection with the acquisition of an under-construction, 330-unit multifamily development in a southern suburb of Boston.
      • Represented start-up litigation support company in initial lease and subsequent expansion for approximately 6,700 square feet at financial district location.
      • Represented high-tech personnel evaluation software and service provider in relocation from South Shore to approximately 14,000 square feet of space in downtown Boston.
      • Represented major data support firm in negotiations to relocate from the financial district to approximately 42,000 square feet of space in the Back Bay.
      • Represent an academic institution in connection with its relocation to a new 350-student campus to be built in conjunction with a private multifamily, 120-unit condominium. Representation includes drafting and negotiation of the purchase and sale agreement with the property owner and the joint venture agreement with the private real estate developer. Handling all due diligence, design, acquisition, permitting, and construction aspects of the transaction.

      • Represented city in northern suburbs of Boston as special zoning counsel in the adoption of a path-breaking form-based code for redevelopment of a 15-acre area in the city's downtown as a new mixed-use, transit-oriented district.
      • Working with consultant team on development of a new form-based code covering a new development area at the convergence of three towns in the northern suburbs of Boston.
      • Representing community development corporation on the redevelopment of single-story, underutilized commercial buildings in a neighborhood commercial district of Boston as mixed-use commercial and residential buildings oriented to a nearby commuter rail transit station.
      • Represented residential property owners on the development of new roof decks on abutting property in the South End of Boston.
      • Representing commercial property in an inner-ring suburb of Boston on opposition to a new billboard structure built in contravention of local zoning requirements and the Massachusetts Zoning Act.
      • Representing lender on the re-phasing and re-positioning of a major mixed-use development in the northern suburbs of Boston.
      • Advised the City of Lowell, Massachusetts, regarding the development of the Hamilton Canal District Form-Based Code (HCD FBC). Robinson & Cole’s primary responsibilities included reviewing and suggesting revisions to the code as it was developed, drafting and advising the City on administrative and implementation procedures, and providing a legal analysis of the final HCD FBC’s consistency with state zoning and subdivision law.
      • Representation of lender in the workout of a major mixed-use project in a southern suburb of Boston with respect to modification and extension of permits and approvals.
      • Representation of nonprofit community development corporation in the acquisition and development of a 16 to 20-unit transit-oriented, mixed-use project in a Boston neighborhood.
      • Advised transportation authority on title and transactional matters related to acquiring certain temporary and permanent interests in real estate with certain municipalities in eastern Massachusetts for accessibility improvements, including new elevators, in connection with the authority's settlement of a disabled patron accessibility class lawsuit. Work has included extensive title research, preparation of a title report delineating the authority’s current and proposed interests at the stations, and successful completion of contract negotiations through memorandums of agreement with each municipality.

      • Advised transportation authority regarding title and transactional aspects of acquisition of real estate rights from public and private owners for construction of new elevators and station renovations regarding selected station accessibility program. This project included negotiation of memorandums of agreement and preparation of in-depth title reports on the statutory and record title basis for authority’s interests at the stations.
      • Advised transportation authority regarding release by a certain municipality in eastern Massachusetts of certain Article 97 lands in public parkland for the construction of the new surface-to-subway elevator in connection with the authority's settlement of a disabled patron accessibility class lawsuit.
      • Representation of developer in the zoning relief process for a 22-unit, mixed-income residential development in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston on behalf of the Roslindale Field Development Corporation, a joint venture of Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation and Urban Edge Housing Corporation.
      • Collaborated with a community foundation in a Midwestern U.S. city on implementation of a recently adopted urban design element for the city's master plan, including substantial amendments to the city's zoning and subdivision codes to produce better urban design and development forms.
      • Assisted local counsel in successful defense of final plan approval for 20-story high-rise development in the town center of Columbia, Maryland. Zoning Board of Appeals hearing examiner ruled that neighbor appellants (some of whom were direct abutters) lacked standing.
      • Represented multiple commercial tenants in lease negotiations with major office space landlords in various office submarkets in Boston, Massachusetts.
      • Represented commercial landlord in a 42,000-square foot lease to a major national clothing and accessories retailer in western Massachusetts. In related transactions, represented landowner in finalizing tax increment financing and negotiating a parking agreement for the property.
      • Drafted, negotiated, and closed on long-term ground lease for construction of the Melnea Hotel in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

      • Handled all documents related to long-term ground lease for rehabilitation of property in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park in South Boston, Massachusetts, for the new headquarters of regional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor and fabricator.

      • While representing a national bank, drafted, negotiated, and closed on senior back-to-back construction-to-permanent loan for the first phase of redevelopment for the Orient Heights public housing project in East Boston, Massachusetts.

      • Represented a national bank in its role as a lender for the Cambridge Housing Authority's (CHA) first four Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion deals. The bank closed the tax-exempt bond financing for 511 units of public housing conversions under HUD's RAD program. The RAD program was created to give public housing authorities a tool to preserve and improve public housing properties by restructuring HUD subsidies into long-term contracts that facilitate the private financing of improvements. These first four transactions were part of a long-term project to convert all 2,129 of CHA's public housing units to RAD. 

      • Representation of national bank for drafting, negotiating and closing on senior back-to-back construction-to-permanent loans for the substantial rehabilitation of four public housing developments in Cambridge, Massachusetts, working within HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program.

      • Drafted, negotiated, and closed on acquisition and financing of existing 8-unit multi-family property in Roslindale, Massachusetts, representing the first real estate acquisition by the client.

      • Successfully permitted 27-unit residential transit-oriented development adjacent to Fairmount Station in Hyde Park, and then drafted, negotiated, and closed on acquisition of site pursuant to joint venture with for-profit developer.

      • Negotiated preferred equity investment in major residential development adjacent to the central railroad station in central Providence, Rhode Island.

      • Represented developer in development review permitting and zoning relief process for redevelopment of major medical research facility in the Longwood/Mission Hill area of Boston for research and development and patient care uses by major health care institution.

      • Represented major regional shopping center owner and developer in the refinancing of separate retail properties in eastern Massachusetts, including negotiation of commitment letters and loan documents and closing of transactions on accelerated timeframe. 

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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      Boston Bar Association
      Co-Chair Real Estate Law Section

      Walk Boston
      Board President

      Congress for the New Urbanism
      Board Treasurer of New England Chapter

      Citizens' Housing and Planning Association

      Form-Based Codes Institute
      Member, Resource Council and Governance Committee
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Board Distinguished Service Award, Southeast Boston Community Development Corporation

      Listed as a Rising Star in Massachusetts Super Lawyers® in the area of Land Use/Zoning Law for 2008, and 2010 - 2011/2012 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)

      Robinson+Cole Pro Bono Service Award Recipient, 2016

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      WalkUP Roslindale
      Co-Founder of Steering Committee
  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "Getting down to specifics for Boston's growth zones," published in REBA News, a publication of the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts (March 2015)
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      "Tweaking the System: Getting Projects Built and Codes Changed within the Existing Framework," coauthor of chapter 3 in A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development, Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2008)

      "LEED-ND Pilot Rating System Establishes New Building Guidelines," published in Banker & Tradesman (2/11/2008)

      A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development for Planners, Developers, and Architects (2008)

      "Helping Communities Make Their Regulations Work for Mixed Use" (Parts 1 & 2) coauthored with Brian Blaesser (12/2007 and 1/2008) published in Retail Law Strategist
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      "Governor Patrick Signs Legislation to Exempt Landlocked Tidelands from Chapter 91 Licensing," published in New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, co-authored with Karl P. Baker (Winter 2007)

      "Helping Communities Make Their Regulations Work for Mixed Use," published in Retail Law Strategist, co-authored with Brian W. Blaesser, (Parts 1 & 2) (12/2007 and 1/2008)

      "Chapter 40R: A Good Law Made Better Finally Starts Showing Results," (Fall 2006)
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      "Legal Issues in Land Development/Recent Developments in the Law," comments offered to the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, focusing on eminent domain and regulatory takings, Boston, Massachusetts (5/31/2006)

      "Chapter 40R: A New Mechanism for Encouraging Housing Construction," published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, co-authored with Michael S. Giaimo (12/2004)

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Negotiating & Drafting Office & Retail Leases," presented MCLE seminar; examined similarities, differences, issues, and negotiated solutions of office and retail leasing transactions (4/23/2013)

      "Context-Based Zoning and Other Innovative Tools," at Southern New England American Planning Association Conference: Planning at the Crossroads, Panelist (9/2012)

      "The ABCs of Form-Based Codes & FBC301: Completing, Adopting, and Administering Code," Course Instructor (May 2011)

      "Affordable Housing Law (Chapter 40B)," at Boston Bar Association Real Estate Section, moderator (September 2010)

      "An Introduction to Form-Based Codes," at the Zoning Reform Working Group of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, Boston, Massachusetts (11/25/2008)

      "Omaha by Design," at the Annual Conference of the American Planning Association (4/2008)

      "Site Acquisition: Negotiating and Drafting the Purchase and Sale of Real Property," at Lorman Education Seminar on Real Estate Development in Massachusetts from Beginning to End in Dedham, Massachusetts (11/16/2007)

      "Site Selection and Due Diligence," at Lorman Education Seminar on Real Estate Development in Massachusetts from Beginning to End in Dedham, Massachusetts (11/16/2007)

      "New Urbanism, Conventional Zoning, and Form-Based Codes," at the CNU 101 seminar in Peterborough, New Hampshire, sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (10/2007)

      "Chapter 205 of the Acts of 2006 - The Expedited and Streamlined Permitting Law," at roundtable discussion with David Sterrett, Boston Bar Association's Land Use Development Committee (10/3/2006)
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      "Smart Growth Overlays Join Chapter 40B: Massachusetts Goes for the Carrot to Encourage Denser Housing Development," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts, Worcester, Massachusetts (8/4/2006)
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      "Special Zoning Districts and Provisions in Boston," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts (Boston Focus), Boston, Massachusetts (12/2/2005)

      "New Urbanism, Smart Growth, TOD and Form-Based Coding: Can They Really Work in Massachusetts," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use in Massachusetts, co-presented with George Proakis, City of Lowell (8/2005)

      "Anti-Snob Zoning and Smart Growth Overlays: The Yin and Yang of Multifamily Housing Development in Massachusetts," at Lorman Education Seminar on Advanced Zoning and Land Use - Massachusetts (8/2005)

      "The New Chapter 40R: Massachusetts Tries to Encourage Smart Growth through Incentives for Higher Density Residential and Mixed-Use Zoning," at Smart Policies for Smart Design Session at the Congress for New Urbanism - New England Chapter First Annual Conference, Placemaking in New England, co-presented with Sarah Young, deputy director of policy, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (4/2005)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • January 31, 2017

        Boston Lawyers Attend Annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit

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      • October 10, 2016

        Matt Lawlor Selected by the Boston Bar Association as “The Most Interesting Lawyer of the Week”

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      • December 18, 2015

        Boston Lawyers Participate in 2015 WomenUp Event

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      • April 17, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Represents National Bank in HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration Conversion Deals with Cambridge Housing Authority

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      • April 6, 2015

        Matt Lawlor Publishes Article for REBA News

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      • December 19, 2014

        Boston Lawyers Address WomenUp Event

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      • August 14, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Host Networking Event at 2014 ABA Annual Meeting

      • November 4, 2013

        Boston Lawyers Represent R&C at CHAPA's Annual Dinner

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      • May 15, 2013

        Real Estate Lawyer Chairs MCLE Seminar

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      • September 18, 2012

        Land Use Lawyers Speaking at 2012 Southern New England American Planning Association Conference

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      • November 14, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Client Breaks Ground on New Medical Facility in Boston

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      • May 17, 2011

        Land Use Attorney Teaches the ABCs of Form-Based Codes

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      • October 19, 2010

        Land Law Attorney Delivers Presentation on Form-Based Code Legal Issues at American Planning Association Conference

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      • October 5, 2010

        Attorneys Help Launch Boston Bar Association Real Estate Section Season

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      • June 10, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorneys Host “Smart Growth” Webinar

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      • September 17, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Participate in Panel Discussion for Boston Bar Association

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      • October 27, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorney Participates at 2008 Fall Council Meeting of ABA Section

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      • September 5, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Appointed Co-Chair of BBA's Land Use & Development Committee

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      • May 13, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Serves as Panel Member and Presenter at Omaha by Design

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      • February 15, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Land Use Attorney's Article Featured in Banker & Tradesman

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      R+C News Releases

      • September 13, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Presents Annual Awards for Dedication and Outstanding Contributions

      • June 11, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyer To Serve as Co-chair of Boston Bar Association Section

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      • December 11, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Elects Four New Partners and Promotes Six Counsel

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