Danielle Meltzer Cassel is a Shareholder in the Real Estate group focusing on transactional real estate, land use and public incentives law. Since 1996, her transactional and land use work has covered a broad spectrum of property types in both urban and suburban contexts, including mixed-use developments, retail and office developments, hotels, hospitals, schools and universities, religious institutions, industrial parks, manufacturing facilities, power plants, billboard signage, and single-family and multifamily residential developments.
Ms. Cassel has represented purchasers and sellers, lessors and lessees, providers of debt and equity, developers, project operators and end users in transactions ranging from the beginning phases of due diligence, formation of joint ventures, design and construction to the ongoing operations, disposition, redevelopment and refinancing of existing properties.
Her land use and development work has included numerous planned developments and subdivisions in both urban and suburban contexts, annexations and disconnections, map amendments, text amendments, special uses, variations, permits and licensing, establishment of legal-nonconformity status, recapture agreements, landmarks and historic preservation, utility and transportation issues, billboard, high-rise and streetfront signage, impact fee and subsidy negotiations and preparation of easement and operating covenants.
Ms. Cassel has been recognized as an "up and coming" lawyer in Chambers USA in the Illinois Real Estate category, which noted her "phenomenal brain and terrific client skills." The elite Legal 500 United States guide lists Ms. Cassel as a "Leading Lawyer" in the category of Real Estate and Construction—Land Use/Zoning; she was named one of the Leading Illinois Commercial Real Estate Lawyers by Leading Lawyers Network; she has been selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America; and she has received a Peer Rating in Martindale-Hubbell.
From 1999 through 2008, Ms. Cassel co-taught seminars in zoning and land use law at both Northwestern University Law School and the University of Chicago Law School. She also has lectured on numerous land use law and public incentive issues for the Urban Land Institute, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, American Bar Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, the Law Project (formerly Community Economic Development Law Project), the University of Chicago Law School Real Estate Law Society and the University of Chicago Law School Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship.
Ms. Cassel was a member of Leadership Greater Chicago’s Class of 2006, and she received a "Tomorrow’s Leaders Today" award from Public Allies Chicago and a Special Recognition Award from the Partnership to End Homelessness. She currently serves on the boards of the Primo Center for Women and Children, the Law Project, the Yale Club of Chicago, and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI). For several years, Ms. Cassel also served on the advisory board of Public Allies Chicago and on the board of WomanCraft, Inc., a subsidiary of Deborah’s Place, Chicago’s largest provider of shelter and services to formerly homeless women.
Prior to joining Vedder Price, Ms. Cassel spent 13 years in the Real Estate Department at DLA Piper US LLP, and prior to beginning her legal career she worked, studied and volunteered extensively in several fields related to inner-city development. Her three most significant research projects included multiyear studies of the 1990 National Affordable Housing Act; lending collaborations for Community Reinvestment Act credit among traditional mortgage lenders and neighborhood-based institutions; and bridge loans facilitating nonsyndicated Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity investments.