Gary E. Axelrod

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


Gary Axelrod advises clients on complex business transactions in the real estate, hospitality, gaming, and leisure industries. His clients include real estate private equity sponsors and funds, REITs, institutional investors, operating companies, and entrepreneurial developers engaged in all aspects of real estate investment and development. In addition, Mr. Axelrod has extensive experience in complex asset-level and corporate-level restructurings.

Mr. Axelrod has significant experience in the hospitality industry and is Co-Chair of the firm's Hospitality, Gaming & Leisure Industry Group. He regularly represents owners and operators in connection with the sale, acquisition, development, financing, ownership, and management of hotel, resort, and gaming properties.

He also represents corporate, venture capital, and other private equity clients in bankruptcies, restructurings, mergers, acquisitions, and dispositions involving portfolio companies and their real estate assets. Mr. Axelrod’s practice also has a substantial cross-border element including projects in Canada, China, Dubai, India, Abu Dhabi, and Mexico.

Mr. Axelrod is regularly recognized in Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, where he ranks as a Band 1 attorney in both the Real Estate industry and the Leisure & Hospitality industry. He is known by clients as “one of the best transactional real estate attorneys in Chicago. He understands what is important and has a great ability to get deals done,” Chambers USA 2012. Mr. Axelrod is a “great real estate finance attorney with strong negotiating and leadership skills” and “he has an unbeatable combination of industry knowledge and experience, with responsiveness, creativity and diplomacy,” Chambers USA 2011. Mr. Axelrod is also ranked as a leading expert in The Legal 500 US: Volume IV: Real Estate, Employment & Labor, and Tax, 2007-2015, was selected as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois for Real Estate by Leading Lawyers Network, a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine, and included in Best Lawyers in America for Real Estate Law. He was also included In The Legal 500 US 2017 and 2019 and is recommended for Real Estate. Additionally, Mr. Axelrod is recommended for Investment Fund Formation & Management: REITs by The Legal 500 US 2014. Law360 named Mr. Axelrod a 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, and 2020 MVP for notable legal work in the hospitality category.

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.


Mr. Axelrod's experience includes:

  • Public-private partnership for development of flagship convention center hotel
  • Formation of two Freddie Mac-focused debt funds
  • Joint venture for mixed use project involving two, dual branded hotels in Nashville
  • Multiple acquisitions of large, medical office building portfolios
  • Acquisition of portfolio of manufactured housing communities
  • Joint venture to develop US$1.5 billion mixed use project
  • Joint venture acquisition of mezzanine debt, foreclosure, and senior mortgage restructuring secured by hotel in Hawaii
  • Acquisition of nine hotel portfolio with contemporaries acquisition of secured debt
  • Acquisition, joint venture, and financing (including loan assumptions) of 26 hotel and operating company portfolio 
  • Redevelopment and financing of office building into a boutique lifestyle hotel
  • US$150 million project financing for alternative energy provider in India 
  • Joint venture, acquisition, and financing of luxury hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii
  • Acquisition and financing of luxury hotel in San Francisco
  • Development of ultra-luxury resort and residences in China
  • Private investors in connection with development of luxury hotel in Baghdad, Iraq
  • Management, development, and ownership of 6-star international resort projects including in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Mexico
  • Joint venture to develop an approximately US$1.75 billion resort and casino project
  • US$650 million acquisition of national hotel chain including 60 owned hotels
  • Ground lease, finance, construction, and management of a to-be-built convention center hotel
  • US$325 million sale of four hotels in Sardinia, Italy, and joint venture to develop approximately 6,000 acres of undeveloped land
  • Joint venture to recapitalize and restructure the debt of a 5-star resort
  • Joint venture to recapitalize a mixed-use project in San Antonio
  • Joint venture to develop mixed-use project in Chicago
  • Joint venture to develop a US$5.5 billion mixed-use development including at least three different hotel brand products as well as residential, casino, retail, and fractional ownership projects
  • US$800 million joint venture with a pension fund adviser and a publicly-traded real estate investment trust
  • Restructuring of three separate financings secured by regional shopping malls
  • Restructuring mortgage and mezzanine debt and implementing debt-for-equity exchange for golf club operator
  • Bankruptcy and restructuring of over US$10 billion in debt for public REIT
  • Restructuring of US$650 million in debt for merchant developer
  • Restructuring of approximately US$1.6 billion in commercial mortgage-backed securities debt for manufactured housing operator
  • Acquisition of approximately a 50% interest in a real estate investment trust holding two trophy office buildings in Boston

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
“He is extraordinarily intelligent with an amazing grasp of details, but also very practical and very responsive.”Chambers USA 2019
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