On April 1, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine signed Executive Order 2020-08D, which contains certain “requests” of commercial mortgage lenders and landlords with small business commercial tenants located in Ohio.

While the health and safety of the US populace is of primary concern, the economic and legal implications of COVID-19 have already proven to be significant, particularly in the commercial real estate context. Mandated closures have left landlords and tenants concerned about the enforceability of lease obligations (especially with respect to the obligation to pay rent); purchasers and sellers concerned about meeting the timelines set forth in contracts of purchase and sale and the logistics of closing; borrowers and lenders concerned about the fulfillment of loan obligations; ...

At this year’s International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Retail Development & Law Symposium held in Columbus, Ohio last month, I led a roundtable discussion on a commonly utilized transactional structure referred to as a membership interest “drop-and-swap,” which is also referred to as the “LLC loophole.”

In January, Cincinnati City Council passed legislation imposing restrictions on residential landlords’ right to collect security deposits from their tenants. Specifically, the ordinance amends Chapter 871 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code to require that certain residential landlords give their tenants alternatives to the traditional security deposit (a payment equal to one month’s rent, due at lease signing). Those alternatives include (1) rental security insurance, (2) a reduced security deposit (no more than 50% of the monthly rent), and (3) payment of the full security deposit, but split-up into at least six smaller, monthly installments.

On October 22, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published their final rule repealing the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.  The repeal will be effective on December 23, 2019.  The breadth of the WOTUS rule affects which water bodies and wetlands are subject to pollution protection under the federal Clean Water Act.  In late 2018, EPA and the Corps issued a proposed WOTUS rule to narrow the definition of WOTUS, and solicited public comment.  The new WOTUS rule is not expected to be finalized until 2020, and is ...

At this year’s International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Retail Development & Law Symposium held in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month, I presented a roundtable discussion on the best practices of land assemblage for large commercial and residential development sites.  Our table analyzed specific examples of land assemblage, both locally (15th + High Project in Columbus, Ohio, the FC Cincinnati Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Rookwood Commons and Pavilion development in Cincinnati, Ohio) and nationally (Google and Amazon data centers and the assembly of Disney World). 

The Ohio House of Representatives are considering a new law to create an economic tool to assist on Ohio economic development projects.  Ohio House Bill 740, introduced in October and referred to the State and Local Government Committee in November (where it received its third hearing in December), seeks to create a state bond bank called the Economic Development Bond Bank (the “Bond Bank”). 

Ohio General Assembly House Bill 727 (“HB 727”), introduced on August 29th, seeks to capitalize on the newly created “Opportunity Zone” program by adding a state tax incentive component.

On December 31, 2017, new Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) Sections 1400Z-1 and 1400Z-2, passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, became effective. These two Code sections establish the framework for the new Opportunity Zone (“O-Zone”) incentives. Generally, a gain realized from the sale or exchange of property with an unrelated person can be deferred if invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (an “O-Fund”) within 180 days of the sale or exchange.

The One Hundred and Thirty Second General Assembly of the Ohio Legislature has seen a number of bills introduced that innovate state and local governments’ engagement in economic development activity. In particular, three bills have been introduced that, if eventually passed, would have fairly significant impact on the Ohio economic development landscape. Those are House Bill 469, House Bill 668, and House Bill 525.

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