Gary E. Axelrod

  • Partner
  • 330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2800
  • Chicago, IL 60611
  • USA
  • T +1.312.777.7051


Gary Axelrod, Global Co-Chair of the firm’s Real Estate Practice and the Hospitality, Gaming & Leisure Industry Group, advises clients on many of their most complex and highest-profile real estate transactions.

Nationally recognized as a leading real estate lawyer, Mr. Axelrod delivers creative and strategic counsel to real estate private equity sponsors and funds, institutional investors, operating companies, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and entrepreneurial developers. His experience spans all types of transactions and asset classes, with a particular focus on hotels, resorts, and gaming properties. He also brings substantial experience advising on international projects, including in Canada, China, Dubai, India, Abu Dhabi, and Mexico.

Mr. Axelrod’s practice includes:

  • Complex single-asset acquisitions and dispositions
  • Portfolio acquisitions and dispositions
  • Entity-level mergers and acquisitions
  • Joint ventures, including platform and strategic joint ventures and public-private partnerships
  • Development projects
  • Debt and equity financings
  • Bankruptcies and restructurings, including complex asset-level and corporate-level restructurings

Mr. Axelrod is regularly recognized for his notable legal work by industry publications, including Chambers USA, The Legal 500 US, Law360, Leading Lawyers Network, and Super Lawyers Magazine. He is ranked Band 1 for Real Estate and for Leisure and Hospitality in Chambers USA 2021.

Mr. Axelrod also supports community causes by serving as a board member for the Anti-Defamation League, Midwest and assisting clients on a pro bono basis, including in connection with community outreach programs.

Mr. Axelrod regularly serves on the Advisory Boards for Real Estate Law360 and Hospitality Law360, and was licensed as a certified public accountant in 1994.


Representative clients include:

  • Apollo Global Real Estate
  • Ascendant Capital Partners
  • Atrium Hotels
  • Dreamscape Companies
  • Dune Real Estate Partners
  • GEM Realty Capital
  • Haberhill
  • Hersha Hospitality Trust
  • HHM
  • Highgate Hospitality
  • Junius Real Estate Partners
  • Kayne Anderson Real Estate
  • KHP Capital Partners
  • Loews Hotels
  • MCR Development
  • Peterson Companies
  • Playa Hotels & Resorts
  • Remedy Medical Properties
  • Riller Capital
  • Schulte Hospitality
  • Starwood Capital Group
  • Walton Street Capital

Mr. Axelrod’s experience includes advising:

  • Highgate Hospitality in its US$2.8 billion acquisition of Colony Capital’s 197 hotel investment platform
  • Ascendant Capital in its US$450 million joint venture with respect to preferred equity PIPE and warrants in Watermark Lodging Trust
  • Dreamscape Companies in its US$516.3 million acquisition of Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, a gaming resort, from Caesars Entertainment
  • Highgate Hospitality in its US$50 million joint venture with respect to preferred equity PIPE and warrants in American Hotel Income Properties
  • A real estate private equity fund in its PropCo and OpCo investment in a combination contemporary art museum and boutique hotel chain
  • A closely held real estate investment company in its ground lease for a new-build hotel and casino in Maryland and subsequent bond financing
  • Various clients in separate portfolio sales and acquisitions of hotel portfolios aggregating to well more than US$5 billion in value
  • Private equity fund in a development joint venture for a luxury hotel-anchored mixed-use project
  • GEM Realty Capital in the acquisition of a more than 1,700 single-family home rental portfolio
  • Loews Hotels in a public-private partnership for the development of a flagship convention center hotel
  • Private equity fund in the formation of two Freddie Mac-focused debt funds
  • Starwood Capital Group in a joint venture for a mixed-use project involving two, dual-branded hotels in Nashville
  • Remedy Medical Properties in acquisitions of large, medical office building portfolios
  • Starwood Capital Group in its acquisition of TMI Hospitality, an owner and operator of more than 200 hotels
  • MCR Development in the acquisition and financing of a portfolio of 18 Marriott and Hilton hotels across 11 states in the US
  • Private equity fund in the acquisition of multiple portfolios of manufactured housing communities
  • Hersha Hospitality Management in numerous joint ventures and company-level recapitalization
  • KHP Capital Partners in the sale of Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, an operator of boutique hotels and restaurants, to the InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Walton Street Capital in a joint venture acquisition of mezzanine debt, foreclosure, and senior mortgage restructuring secured by a hotel in Hawaii
  • KHP Capital Partners in the redevelopment of an office building into a boutique lifestyle hotel, as well as the related financing
  • Privately equity owned manufactured housing operator in the restructuring of approximately US$1.6 billion in commercial mortgage-backed securities debt
  • Private-equity owned golf club operator in the restructuring of mortgage and mezzanine debt and the implementation of a debt-for-equity exchange
  • General Growth Properties in the bankruptcy and restructuring of more than US$10 billion of debt
  • MCR Development in the acquisition and financing (including loan assumptions) of a 26 hotel and operating company portfolio
  • Hersha Hospitality Trust in a US$200 million notes offering
  • GEM Realty Capital in the acquisition and financing of a luxury hotel in San Francisco
  • Kerzner International in the management, development, and ownership of six-star international resort projects, including in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Mexico
  • International hotel brand operator in the US$650 million acquisition of a national hotel chain, including 60 owned hotels
  • International hotel brand operator in the ground lease, financing, construction, and management of a convention center hotel
  • International hotel brand operator in the US$325 million sale of four hotels in Sardinia, Italy, and a joint venture to develop approximately 6,000 acres of undeveloped land
  • Merchant developer in the restructuring of US$650 million of debt

Thought Leadership

  • Digging in the Dirt? Allocating Environmental Liability in Real Estate Transactions -  November 12, 2013
  • The Impact of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act on the Hospitality and Gaming Industries -  February 06, 2013
  • Data Security: Compliance and Enforcement in the Hospitality Industry -  November 15, 2012
  • New Challenges For Real Estate Restructurings  -  September 12, 2012
  • Recent Bankruptcy Decisions Create Challenges for Real Estate Restructuring -  September 04, 2012

According to sources: 

"He is a fantastic lawyer and an expert in the field." 

"He is very commercial and his technical knowledge is as good as there is."

Chambers USA 2021
Bar Qualification
  • Illinois
  • JD, University of Illinois College of Law, 1997
    magna cum laude
  • BS, University of Illinois, 1994
    High Honors
  • Hospitality, Gaming & Leisure
  • REITs
  • Real Estate
  • Restructuring & Special Situations
  • Private Equity