Michelle Kelban, Global Co-Chair of the firm’s Real Estate Practice, advises clients on a range of complex and prominent real estate transactions, including private capital raising and financing, acquisitions, joint venture recapitalizations, and workouts and restructurings.

Nationally recognized as a leading real estate lawyer, Ms. Kelban serves a variety of key market players, including private equity firms, US and foreign investors, institutional lenders, and family offices. She leverages her broad-based experience to help clients successfully navigate all types of real estate transactions across an array of asset classes. Ms. Kelban brings particular experience in highly structured and multifaceted deals involving bespoke structures.

Ms. Kelban regularly advises on transactions involving:

  • Asset and entity-level acquisitions and dispositions in respect of real estate based operating businesses
  • Single asset and multiple property portfolio financings for a range of property types and performing and non-performing loan assets
  • Mezzanine financings, preferred equity structures, equity investments, joint ventures, and equity recapitalizations
  • Workouts, restructurings, and distressed and performing loan sales
  • Foreign investors with respect to all types of in-bound US acquisitions, joint ventures, and financings

A collaborative and creative problem solver, Ms. Kelban works closely with clients to understand their key business needs. She delivers pragmatic, commercially driven advice, with a focus on building consensus among key stakeholders and achieving a client’s strategic objectives. She is regularly recognized in leading legal publications, including Chambers USA and The Legal 500.

Ms. Kelban is actively involved in pro bono and community service initiatives. She provides pro bono counsel to nonprofit organizations and schools, including the Girls Global Academy (GGA), an all-girls public charter high school in Washington, D.C. Ms. Kelban is also a member of the Beacon Group, which provides grants to local New York organizations supporting underserved populations.

In 2020, Ms. Kelban was elected to the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, an invitation-only organization comprising leading real estate lawyers across the US.

Ms. Kelban’s experience includes advising:

  • Ares Management Corporation in a joint venture with RXR, a leading real estate owner, operator, and developer in the New York Tri-State area, to form a US$1 billion fund targeting debt and equity investments in distressed commercial properties primarily located in New York City

  • Cain International in a US$2 billion financing to support the development of One Beverly Hills, a mixed-use urban project spanning 17.5 acres

  • Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing, in a US$6.4 billion equity investment in Vantage Data Centers, a leading provider of hyperscale data center campuses

  • Constellation Hotels Holdings, a global real estate hospitality investment group, in the sale of the SLS Brickell, a 124-room luxury and lifestyle hotel located in the burgeoning downtown Miami Brickell submarket

  • Colony Capital in the exercise of remedies in connection with a subordinated mezzanine loan secured by a 148 asset hotel portfolio located in 32 states and the transfer of such portfolio to the client, as lender, in lieu of a foreclosure; this portfolio was then restructured, refinanced, and sold during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Ares Management Corporation on its US$2.5 billion acquisition along with Pretium Partners of Front Yard Residential Corporation, a provider of single-family housing
  • A foreign investment group in a joint venture with a US real estate developer to acquire the retail unit of a mixed-use luxury condominium to be constructed at 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan; the transaction involved a secured forward purchase contract structure that required payment of the entire purchase price at the signing of the contract, which was secured in part by an equity pledge from the seller
  • Katara Hospitality in the highly complex sale of the iconic Plaza hotel in Manhattan, which involved navigating requirements of the India courts, multiple financing amendments and obstacles, and the filing of a lis pendens by a third party claiming rights to the asset prior to the closing
  • An investment firm in the forward purchase of a site for the construction of a five-star luxury hotel and condominium in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Partners Group in its highly structured preferred equity investment and joint venture in respect thereof for the acquisition of 1375 Broadway, the office building that spans roughly 500,000 square feet in the heart of the Garment District in New York City
  • An institutional lender in multiple, highly structured loans secured by non-performing loans, performing loans, and portfolios of fee assets
  • A Middle Eastern investor in acquiring the Montage Beverly Hills
  • A foreign investor in connection with the complex development joint venture, acquisition, pre-development, and EB-5 financing of One Wall Street, a landmarked office building located in downtown New York City
  • A confidential party in a forward purchase (done as part of a joint venture with 99 Church Investors) of a high-end luxury mixed-use property located in downtown New York City

Bar Qualification

  • New York


  • JD, George Washington University Law School, 2000
    with highest honors, Order of the Coif
  • BA, New York University, 1997
    magna cum laude with honors, Phi Beta Kappa