About this Blog

This blog is intended to provide visitors to my site with comments from me about some of my current work. These summaries are not a guaranty of any particular outcome in any other matter. I merely wish to convey to my readers, a sense of the scope of my practice. In addition to the cases mentioned in the blog, I usually have a number of “garden variety” real estate matters involving lease negotiations, purchase and sale, specific performance and other real estate related matters. I enjoy real estate law and the people involved in the real estate industry. I hope I can be of service to you.

Occasionally I will include comments concerning matters which are of a personal interest to me. I enjoy opera, ice hockey and international film.


 Effective real estate litigation requires fundamental knowledge of the real estate market and how that market works. A real estate investor client felt he was defrauded by a real estate developer in a real estate acquisition. My client’s loss exceeded 1.2 million dollars. We filed a lawsuit. Proving our case involved constructing a detailed timeline of events from numerous transaction documents, emails and  deposition transcripts. We carefully fit together different versions of certain leases, building permit applications, permits, City of Portland inspection comments, appraisals and email chains to create an inescapable noose for the defendants. For over two years, the defendants had adamantly denied liability and refused to make a credible settlement offer insisting that they would try the case and prevail. With discovery almost complete and a trial date set for early 2014, the defendants finally decided to resolve the matter. Happily, my client was made whole.

        On another legal front, financial institutions continue to pursue  judicial foreclosure. There appear to be thousands of foreclosures still pending. The financial institutions still appear to be disorganized with no clear strategy for maximizing  financial gain. Rather than reach a settlement based on the current value of a property, lenders continue to pursue the folly of foreclosure. I have helped numerous parties navigate this process – maximizing my clients’ return which need not involve prevailing in a lawsuit. Each client’s situation is different and each has a different strategy.

My favorite foreclosure case these days is one in which we negotiated a settlement whereby my clients stipulated to a judgment of foreclosure in exchange for certain considerations   A sheriff’s sale was held and the the lender bid its note. Since it was the only bidder. it was the successful bidder. Apparently sometime during this process the lender sold the note. I now get repeated phone calls from a new “servicer” who claims that they have no record of the foreclosure sale, have never heard of the law firm that represented the previous lender and refuse to make any effort to contact that law firm. I addition to the calls I have taken, I have received voice mails from them indicating they are calling to resolve the debt. I have no idea why financial institution stock prices have risen so far in the past year. But it can’t be because of their reaction to the foreclosure crisis.

Real Estate Transactions

I recently had the opportunity to represent several clients, WHJ Holdings LLC, in the  acquisition of a iconic downtown property — the YWCA Building on SW Tenth Avenue. The acquisition involved careful analyses of complex zoning issues and of claims made by third parties against the seller. I successfully negotiated a significant price reduction  as a result of these analyses. We are now exploring options for the development of the site which may include redeveloping the existing structure or constructing  a new mixed use tower on the site. I am looking forward to being a part of the redevelopment of a site which is an integral part of Portland’s Cultural District.
      I recently assisted another client in closing a large construction loan while a neighborhood association appeal of a Portland Design Commission decision was pending before LUBA and then the Oregon Court of Appeal. This  transaction also involved careful analysis of the City ordinances but more importantly a level headed assessment of risk. It was important to close the loan as an interest rate lock was about to expire. We also negotiated and closed on an equity investment in the project with the appeal pending.

Mention in the Oregonian

I recently had the opportunity to assist several clients in acquiring an iconic Portland building.

A Bellevue, Wash., architect has bought the YWCA Building in downtown Portland with plans to turn it into residences with art-focused commercial space.

YWCA buildingWei Zhang, principal architect at BDCL Design International, bought the building at 1111 S.W. 10th Ave. for $4.25 million in a venture with partners based in Vancouver, B.C., and China. The deal closed in early December.

The private Northwest Academy middle and high school had a contract to buy the building from the YWCA of Greater Portland and turn it into a permanent home for its scattered downtown campus. But the sale and needed structural upgrades would have been a seven-figure venture, and the school balked at paying off an outstanding $2.7 million debt to the city of Portland as part of the deal.

The needed upgrades won’t be as significant for commercial use, Zhang said. His real-estate attorney, Gregory Dolinajec, said the debt to the city had been paid off as part of the transaction. Continue reading article here.

Mention in the Portland Business Journal

An architect has paid $4.25 million for the downtown YWCA building, one year after Northwest Academy opted not to close a $7.2 million deal for the iconic building at 1111 S.W. 10thAve.

Wei Zhang, managing partner of WHJHoldings LLC and principal architect at BDCL Design International LTD purchased the building in a deal that recorded Dec. 6, according to a statement from his Portland attorney, Gregory Dolinajec.  Continue reading article.