Looking up at the rotunda in the US Capitol building

Construction, Government Real Estate & Public Buildings

Public building projects are among the most complex in the world of real estate. We help you work through the regulatory and other challenges.

ArentFox Schiff assists and guides clients through the complex issues that can arise in public buildings projects. Our attorneys provide a full range of services in the public buildings arena including GSA leasing, bond finance, and disposition of public assets, and represent owners, developers, underwriters, credit enhancers, and other private-sector participants as well as the General Services Administration and state and local governments.

Our Work

  • Advising owners, developers, and federal, state, and local governments on the disposition of government assets.
  • Counseling regarding enhanced use leasing and other disposition methods.
  • Drafting and negotiating project agreements.
  • Acquiring surplus federal and municipal buildings and land for economic development opportunities.
  • Counseling with respect to all government and political approvals required for the use and disposition of public buildings and lands.
  • Structuring, negotiating, and implementing public-private partnerships across and beyond the United States.
  • Financing of projects leased to the federal government, including under leases that are subject to termination for non-appropriation.
  • Counseling on BRAC and military housing privatization projects.
  • Counseling on all aspects of the Federal Acquisition Regulation and agency FAR supplements.
  • Advising on bid protests, claims, and terminations.
  • Litigating and regulatory counseling in a broad array of energy and environmental matters.
  • Advising on green building and sustainability issues.

Perspectives on Construction, Government Real Estate & Public Buildings

Our Experience


ArentFox Schiff Construction attorneys represent a broad spectrum of clients on public projects, including public agencies, private developers, design professionals, and contractors. Our services range from drafting and negotiating project agreements to representing clients in all forms of dispute resolution. In addition, we advise clients and lecture on green building and sustainability issues. We are experienced with both design-build and design-bid-build project delivery systems.

We have represented:

  • A leading design professional in the negotiation of its contract with the District of Columbia Courts for the renovation of the Old DC Courthouse.
  • The owner/developer in the negotiation of project agreements for the gut renovation of space leased to the University of the District of Columbia.
  • The Public Finance Authority of the US Virgin Islands in connection with its capital program, which included design-build projects.
  • The City of New York in litigation arising out of the collapse of 7 World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
  • The private developer in a public-private partnership for the expansion and modernization of a major transportation hub.
  • Design professionals and construction companies in disputes arising out of public school dormitory and construction projects; and bidders on public bid protests.

Energy & Environmental

ArentFox Schiff Energy and Environmental attorneys provide counsel on a broad array of environmental questions, ranging from traditional regulatory and litigation areas of hazardous and solid waste management and cleanup, air and water pollution, workplace safety and health, insurance coverage, dangerous goods transportation, and toxic torts, to emerging areas such as brownfields redevelopment, environmental justice, global environmental protection, and biotechnology and agro-sciences regulation. We also litigate full-scale jury trial multiparty toxic tort suits and property damage cases, representing both plaintiffs and defendants.

Government Contractor Services

The ArentFox Schiff Government Contractor Services practice touches every aspect of the government’s procurement and contract administration processes – from solicitations and proposals to terminations and audits. Our attorneys are well-versed in all aspects of the Federal Acquisition Regulation and agency FAR supplements. We assist clients in understanding those requirements, as well as the many additional clauses typically found in solicitations, contracts, and lease agreements.

We have in-depth experience bringing and defending bid protests relating to solicitations and awards by all agencies. Our experience includes representing developers and lessors in claims against federal government agencies, including GSA, for such things as constructive changes, delays, unreasonable default terminations, and other improper government actions relating to public buildings. Often, where agencies could not be persuaded to grant claims or enter into reasonable settlement agreements, our Government Contractor Services attorneys have brought actions in the cognizant boards of contract appeals and in the United States Court of Federal Claims.

We are familiar with energy savings performance contracts, and have successfully negotiated disputes with government agencies, and advised clients in the construction industry about issues arising out of such contracts, applicable regulations, and presentation of claims. Our experience also includes litigating disputes arising out of construction contracts in various arbitration venues, mediations, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Government Relations

The ArentFox Schiff Government Relations Group counsels clients with respect to all government and political approvals required for the use and disposition of public buildings and lands.

Our attorneys represent owners, developers, financiers, brokers, end-users, and other parties before federal agencies (including the General Services Administration), the White House, congressional oversight committees, and state and local governments. We have assisted owners in leasing space to federal agencies and developers in acquiring surplus federal and municipal buildings and land for economic development opportunities. We have crafted legislation required to authorize complex public real estate transactions, garnered executive and stakeholder support, prepared witnesses for testimony, assured committee passage, won legislative enactment, and guided implementation. Our attorneys have played a leading role in creating some of the most innovative public-private partnerships in the country, and have devised successful strategies, even in this era of shrinking budgets, for obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars to support public and private projects. We also help clients take advantage of myriad federal and local opportunities to support green building initiatives.

ArentFox Schiff’s bipartisan Government Relations Practice includes two former United States Senators, one former member of the United States House of Representatives, a former Director of the Export-Import Bank, and former senior congressional staff, including the former chief counsel to the Ranking Member of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee in the House.

The following projects and transactions provide a glimpse into the depth and breadth of our practice:

  • Assisted with the refinancing and construction of every major sports facility in DC including Capital One Arena, Audi Field, and Nationals Park.
  • Assisted clients with community relationships with respect to land use and related activities.
  • Helped establish and navigate client relationships with local government to give more credibility and support for CBE government contractors, including those who serve disabilities and schools.
  • Assisted with the authorization of numerous revenue bond financing projects, tax exemptions, and property dispositions.
  • Secured approvals from the City of Menlo Park for high-profile projects such as Facebook Headquarters, Menlo Gateway, and mixed-use transit-oriented developments.
  • Secured the passage of the $1.8 billion Southeast Federal Center development next to the Washington Navy Yard, now known as “The Yards.”
  • Assisted clients on a project involving the location of the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Public Finance

The ArentFox Schiff Public Financing group has represented numerous bond insurers, developers, and underwriters in the financing of projects leased to the federal government, including under leases that are subject to termination for non-appropriation. Projects include facilities for the GSA, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, Veterans Administration, and the Army, and are structured to respond to the unique contracting, procurement, lien perfection, and enforcement rules that apply to federal entities, as well as the capital market’s rating criteria.

Public-Private Partnerships

ArentFox Schiff helps clients – including local, state, and federal governments as well as private developers and lenders – structure, negotiate, and implement public-private partnerships across and beyond the United States. Our lawyers offer significant experience with the highly complex arrangements that public-private partnerships typically entail. We are familiar with the areas of law required for successful partnerships, and we focus on creative, value-added solutions to the issues these transactions present. Our broad range of knowledge and experience includes government procurement and contracting, taxable and tax-exempt finance, real estate, design and construction, environmental, land use and zoning, regulatory, and historic preservation and tax credits.

We recognize our responsibility to facilitate relationships that work for all parties over the long term. Our experience representing both private- and public- sector participants provides us with unique insights into the goals and needs of the respective parties in a P3 transaction, which allows us to craft solutions that achieve the parties’ goals and allow for a healthy and successful long-term relationship among the parties.

Real Estate

The ArentFox Schiff Real Estate group has extensive experience in all aspects of real estate issues that arise from the use and disposition of public buildings. Our real estate attorneys represent building owners who lease space to federal agencies as well as developers involved in design-build projects for government tenants. We also work with owners who seek to acquire assets that federal, state, and local governments no longer want to own. Our attorneys have advised GSA on the disposition of federal assets and have represented developers in public-private partnerships for real estate assets with state and federal authorities. We have assisted owners in obtaining less expensive financing through energy efficiency savings, and have worked on financings for US Department of Defense buildings abroad. Our experience also includes work on BRAC and military housing privatization projects across the United States for developers, local redevelopment authorities, and the US Defense Department.

In addition to experience in these types of matters, our real estate group brings the experience of a national real estate practice that has worked on all types of real estate projects for commercial developers and owners such as office and mixed-use project development and financing, urban core development, hospitality, senior living, sports arenas, multifamily housing, debt and equity financing, joint ventures, and infrastructure.

Key Contacts