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, 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.
Ms. Cassel has successfully obtained governmental approvals for several hundred land use and development projects, including numerous planned developments, subdivisions, annexations, disconnections, map and text amendments, special uses, variations, permits, business licenses (including liquor, restaurant and hotel licenses), establishment of legal-nonconformity status, landmark designation and historic preservation projects, utility and transportation infrastructure agreements, and approvals for billboard, high-rise and streetfront signage. Ms. Cassel has successfully negotiated and closed the public-private partnership or economic incentive components for more than 100 projects nationwide, including governmental grants and loans, impact fee and utility cost reductions, recapture agreements, sales and property tax rebates and abatements, various state and federal tax credits, and tax increment financing.
The elite Legal 500 United States lists Ms. Cassel as a “Leading Lawyer” for the entire country in Real Estate and Construction-Land Use/Zoning. Ms. Cassel has been selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, named as a Leading Illinois Commercial Real Estate Lawyer by Leading Lawyers Network and recognized as an “up and coming” lawyer (Illinois Real Estate category) in Chambers USA, which noted her “phenomenal brain and terrific client skills.”
From 1999 until 2008, Ms. Cassel co-taught seminars in zoning and land use law at both Northwestern University Law School and University of Chicago Law School. She has been an invited speaker for the Urban Land Institute, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, American Bar Association and International Council of Shopping Centers.
Ms. Cassel was a member of Leadership Greater Chicago’s Class of 2006 and has 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 (formerly the Community Economic Development Law Project) and Yale Club of Chicago. Ms. Cassel also served for several years on the boards of Public Allies Chicago, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest and WomanCraft, Inc.
Prior to joining Vedder Price, Ms. Cassel spent 13 years in the Real Estate Department at DLA Piper US LLP. Prior to beginning her legal career, she worked, studied and volunteered extensively in several fields related to inner-city development and enhancement of public-sector service delivery. 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 non-syndicated Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity investments.