William J. Lewis Partner
Over the course of his career, Bill has mastered the minutia of the world of real estate law and transactions. While he primarily focuses his client work on leasing, acquisition, disposition, and sale/leasebacks of office, industrial and retail property, his experience encompasses the full spectrum of real estate matters, including commercial real estate lending and borrowing; single-family and condominium development and conversion; zoning; and various other commercial real estate transactions.
Bill appreciates that while he may have significant insight into a particular transaction and the personalities involved, he may not always be aware of all of the pressures, risks and potential missed opportunities facing his clients. As a result, he strives to provide clear and direct advice, while highlighting potential risks, helping his clients determine what best suits their company’s particular goals, motivations and concerns.
Bill regularly represents international Fortune 500 companies with their leasing needs as tenant and/or sublandlord, taking the time to understand each client’s risk profile. He has represented corporate clients in Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States on deals ranging from 2,500 rentable square feet (RSF) to 700,000 RSF, totaling in excess of 5 million RSF. He has also handled numerous national and international headquarters leases for various large corporations.
Bill’s practice focuses on industrial leasing, and he has handled deals averaging 450,000 RSF up to transactions nearing 850,000 RSF. Additionally, he has managed the real estate component of numerous stock and asset sales with purchase prices as large as $350 million. Bill has also assisted retail banks, restaurants, and product sales companies throughout the United States, with their retail leases. Bill has over 20 years of experience handling hundreds of bank branch leases across the country.
ACQUISITION AND DISPOSITION
Bill has assisted clients with acquisitions and dispositions of more than $700 million in industrial, office and retail properties, many of which contained significant environmental issues, such as the sale of Superfund designated sites. He takes a team approach to completing purchase and sale transactions, so as to maintain cost efficiencies and maximize the overall benefit to his clients.
Bill has assisted numerous clients with the sale and leaseback of their real estate holdings, allowing them to turn their assets into immediate cash and adding to their bottom line. In the last few years alone, he has handled approximately $500 million in sale leaseback transactions, with transactions as small as two sites and as large as 111 sites.
He has deep experience in both balance sheet-focused transactions, and mid- to long-term planning sale/leaseback transactions. As a result, he is able to help properly structure a transaction and negotiate a deal that best suits the intended future of the client’s operations.
OTHER REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS
When critical zoning issues arise, Bill has been called on to represent Fortune 500 corporations with various needs, including major issues with signage at a local corporation’s worldwide headquarters.
He also has deep experience in virtually all aspects of property development, acquisition, drafting of covenants, conditions and restrictions; establishment of easements and rights-of-way; and with property owners’ associations.
Additionally, Bill has advised local and national lenders, specifically a significant number of local banks, with traditional and construction lending for virtually all types of commercial loans. He also assists numerous corporate and high net worth individual borrowers regarding financing for real estate and corporate acquisitions, developments, and refinancings.
Dedicated to giving back to the community in which he lives and works, Bill represents clients in pro bono matters, particularly with Habitat for Humanity, Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) and UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago (f/k/a United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Chicago). For those organizations, Bill has helped with the conversion and sale of apartment buildings to condominiums and with leasing issues and subsequent acquisition of the latter’s headquarters.
Professional and Community Involvement
Member, The Economic Club of Chicago
Member, Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC)
Former Co-Chair, IAMC Future Sites Committee
Former Board member, IAMC
Former adjunct professor, Real Estate Drafting, John Marshall School of Law
Former member, American Arbitration Association (AAA) Panel of Arbitrators, Commercial and Construction Disputes