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Matthew J. Norton

Practice Area Leader - Real Estate
+1.843.579.5634
Fax +1.843.579.5601
+1.212.536.4047
Fax +1.212.536.3901
Matt Norton maintains an international practice and concentrates his practice in the areas of corporate and real estate related transactions and financings, cross-border investment, and commercial and residential real estate development, with a particular focus on resort and hospitality transactions and projects. He has recently or is currently assisting clients with the sale, acquisition, development, repositioning, and/or financing of projects in the United States, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

He is a member of the firm’s advisory council in his capacity as the firmwide Practice Area Leader for Real Estate. He is a founding partner of the firm’s Charleston, SC office and spearheads the firm’s global Resort, Hospitality and Leisure practice area. He also chairs the firm’s Caribbean Practice Affinity Group and has worked extensively throughout Latin America and the Caribbean basin.

He regularly represents clients in structuring and documenting resort, urban, and other planned and mixed-use communities, which may include condominiums, condo hotels, shared ownership products, private clubs, golf courses, hotels, beach amenities and clubs, marinas, spas, and public use spaces.

Mr. Norton has significant experience working in hotel law, including the preparation and negotiation of hotel management agreements, franchise and license agreements, along with handling the sale, acquisition, and financing of hotels.

Additionally, Mr. Norton has extensive experience working with public REITS and has handled a significant amount of transactional and development work for both a publicly traded golf REIT and publicly traded medical office REIT.

Mr. Norton is included in Chambers and Partners USA: America’s Leading Lawyers, Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America, South Carolina Super Lawyers, and has maintained a Martindale Hubbell AV Rating since 2001.

Mr. Norton is also very active in the Urban Land Institute where he is currently a member of the ULI South Carolina Governance Committee and Vice Chair of the ULI Recreational Development Council (Red Flight), a national product council focusing on the resort real estate and hospitality industries. He is also a member of AFIRE - the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate, an international organization focusing on foreign real estate investment in the United States. Further, he is a founding Advisory Board Member of the HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit (CHICOS) and has extensive experience working on resort and hotel projects throughout the Caribbean. Finally, he is a member of the Real Estate and Leisure Industries Sections of the International Bar Association.

Mr. Norton is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was the Editor in Chief of the South Carolina Law Review.

Recent editions of Chambers and Partners USA have stated that Mr. Norton “is well respected for his work in the hospitality resort area, and maintains an impressive global commercial real estate practice. Clients agree that he is “always up to date,” and note that he is “very responsive and always willing and able to help.” "He really gives great advice. He has a very good understanding of what is in the best interest of clients, and fights for what we may need for the future.”  Finally, a client noted that his qualities include "extensive subject matter expertise, responsiveness and efficiency."

Achievements

  • Chambers and Partners USA: America’s Leading Lawyers in Real Estate Law, 2011-2017
  • Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America in Real Estate Law, 2007-2017
  • South Carolina Super Lawyers in Real Estate, 2010, 2014-2017
  • Martindale Hubbell AV Rating since 2001

Professional/Civic Activities

  • Member, Urban Land Institute South Carolina Governance Committee, 2016-2017
  • Member, Urban Land Institute South Carolina Management Committee, 2010-2015
  • Chairman, Urban Land Institute South Carolina Advisory Board, 2014-2016
  • Chairman, Urban Land Institute South Carolina Coastal Division, 2010-2013
  • Vice Chair, Urban Land Institute Recreational Development Council (Red Flight), Member since 2009
  • Conference Chair, Urban Land Institute South Carolina Capital Conference, 2009-2017
  • HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit (CHICOS), 2011-2017
    • Member, Board of Advisors, 2011-2017
    • Chair, Task Force called “Improving Legal Infrastructure to Promote Development in the Caribbean Region,” 2012-2014
  • Member, AFIRE (Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate), 2012-2017
  • International Bar Association, Leisure Industries Section and Real Estate Section

Speaking Engagements

  • Moderator, ULI 9th Annual Capital Markets Program: Fireside Chat with Charles P. “Buddy” Darby, III, The Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah Island, SC, 2017
  • Panelist, HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit - “Guide for First Time Developers in the Caribbean,” San Jose, Puerto Rico, 2016
  • Moderator, ULI 8th Annual Capital Markets Program: Return of the Second Home Resort Market, The Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah Island, SC, 2016
  • Panelist, “K&L Gates Real Estate Breakfast Seminar - Global Real Estate Trends, Brexit and Opportunities for 2016/2017,” K&L Gates - London, September 2016
  • Moderator, HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit - “General Session: Caribbean Countries in Focus - Investment Opportunities in the Region,” San Jose, Puerto Rico, 2015
  • Panelist, ULI 2015 Spring Conference - Recreational Development Council (Red Flight: “Hot Legal Topics and Trends in Recreational Development,” Houston, TX, 2015
  • Speaker, Hospitality Law Conference, “Opportunities for the Hospitality Industry in Cuba,” Houston, TX, 2015
  • Panelist, THINConference, The Hotel Investment Networking Conference - “Branding Strategies and the Franchise Agreement,” Chicago, IL, 2014
  • Moderator, HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit - “Lessons Learned: Developers’ Edition,” Punta Cana, D.R., 2014
  • Moderator, ULI 5th Annual Capital Markets Program: Trends in the Housing Market, The Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah Island, SC, 2014
  • Moderator, ULI Fall Conference - Recreational Development Council (Red Flight): Capital Markets Panel, New York, NY, 2014
  • Panelist, HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit - “Overcoming Caribbean Legal Challenges,” Punta Cana, D.R., 2013
  • Moderator, ULI 4th Annual Capital Markets Program: Capital Comeback - Hospitality Panel, The Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah Island, SC, 2013
  • Moderator, HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit - “Capital Market Outlook - Debt and Equity,” Nassau, Bahamas, 2012
  • Panelist, HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit - “Caribbean Lodging Industry—Innovation Required,” Nassau, Bahamas, 2011

United States

  • Represented Healthcare Trust of America (NYSE:HTA) in its acquisition of 72 medical office properties across 15 states from Duke Realty (NYSE: DRE) for $2.3 billion
  • Represented a Chinese public company with the acquisition of Hotel 373, a boutique hotel in New York City
  • Represents a public company based in Texas in connection with the development of several new branded hotels in Texas and New York and negotiation of related Management Agreements and Franchise Agreements with international hotel brands
  • Represented the organizer of an EB-5 investment structured as a loan to the developer of a mixed use project in Los Angeles, anchored by a Korean grocery store known as the California Marketplace
  • Represented the majority owner of Kiawah Partners and its affiliates in the sale of the holding companies for the Kiawah Island Resort, SC, the Doonbeg Golf Resort in Ireland, and the Christophe Harbour Resort in St. Kitts; counsel to new buyer of the Christophe Harbour Resort
  • Represents a Chicago-based hotel owner and operator in a number of hotel acquisitions throughout the United States including negotiating the financing documents, joint venture documentation, and franchise agreements and hotel management agreements related to the transactions
  • Has represented the developer at the Kiawah Island Resort, Kiawah Island, S.C. in connection with real estate development matters for over 20 years
  • Represented a major developer in Myrtle Beach, S.C. in all aspects of development, transactional, and financing work including work performed in connection with the 2,200 acre Grande Dunes resort and mixed-use planned community including The Marina Inn Condominium Hotel
  • Represented a multifamily owner and operator in the acquisition of a number of apartment complexes in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina including negotiating the financing documents, joint venture documentation, and property management agreements related to the transactions
  • Represented a Texas-based multifamily owner and operator in the acquisition and sale of apartment complexes in Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina
  • Advised a condominium developer on all legal aspects of the development of a high-end luxury condominium project in Mount Pleasant, SC
  • Represented an international private equity real estate fund in the acquisition of a loan and deed in lieu of foreclosure of a high-end condominium project in Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Represented the purchaser of a luxury boutique hotel in historic Charleston, SC
  • Represents several national home builders with parcel acquisitions and lot takedowns in South Carolina
  • Routinely represents borrowers, investors, and guarantors in financing transactions including acquisition and development, construction, permanent, CMBS, and mezzanine credit facilities. Represented two national banks in connection with over 200 commercial and real estate lending transactions throughout South Carolina over a 13 year period
  • Represented Golf Trust of America, a publicly traded golf REIT, for over 10 years working on a variety of golf course-related matters and transactions including acquisitions and sales, leases, sale-leasebacks, workouts and transition agreements, financings, management agreements, private club formation, golf usage and amenity treaties, golf course conversions and repositions, multi-state liquor licensing, and member buy-outs
  • Represents several developers in acquiring, structuring, developing, and leasing of new and existing large mixed-use shopping centers
  • Routinely negotiates joint venture agreements between developers and equity providers
  • Has extensive experience in guiding developers through the homeowners’ association transition process
  • Conducts legal charettes for clients to assist them with project visioning, product and amenity programming, selecting the right project team members, and designing the proper legal framework for the community
  • Assists clients with preparation of business plans in order to attract the right mix of project components and capitalization
  • Represents developers in creating charitable foundations that fund educational, cultural, environmental, and recreational programs in a given project’s community

Caribbean and International

  • Represented RIU Hotels and Resorts in the acquisition of the 481-key Westin Aruba resort hotel in Aruba
  • Has represented the developer of the 2,500 acre Christophe Harbour, St. Kitts, West Indies resort since the project began in 2007
  • Acted as outside general counsel for a private equity real estate group that focuses on luxury hotels and vacation real estate product in the Caribbean and Latin America
  • Represents a Chinese public company with its hospitality and leisure acquisitions worldwide
  • Represents a purchaser in the acquisition and construction of a high-end villa in a resort in the British Virgin Islands, West Indies
  • Represents a purchaser in the acquisition and construction of a high-end villa in a resort in the British Virgin Islands, West Indies
  • Represented a luxury hotel company pursuing the acquisition of the Temenos Resort & Golf Course in Anguilla, West Indies
  • Represented a private equity fund in providing a loan to the owners of the Cap Juluca Resort in Anguilla, West Indies
  • Represented a private equity fund in the acquisition of an iconic luxury hotel in the Bahamas
  • Represents a hotel developer in connection with its hotel development and management documentation with a international hotel brand in the Bahamas
  • Represents an investor-developer in a proposed project in the Turks & Caicos
  • Represents a condominium hotel developer in Roatan, Honduras
  • Represented a private equity fund and luxury hotel brand in the development of a large resort and master planned community in Barbuda, West Indies
  • Represents a national real estate auction company in the sale of multiple distressed hotel properties in Jamaica
  • Represented an investor with its pursuit of a significant investment in a Jamaican-based hotel company
  • Represents a European family-oriented hotel brand launching its first hotel in the Caribbean
  • Represents the developer of a new hotel in the historic area of Cartagena, Colombia
  • Represented a condominium and hotel management company at several properties in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Represented a developer in pursuit of a resort property in the British Virgin Islands, West Indies 
  • Represented a hotel developer in a proposed project in St. Maarten
  • Represented the developer at the Doonbeg, Ireland lodge and golf course
  • Prepared timeshare and fractional program documents for projects in South Carolina, Ireland, and the Caribbean
  • Represents an investor in the acquisition of a resort hotel in Costa Rica
  • Represents a hotel developer in connection with its hotel development and management documentation with an international hotel brand in Doha, Qatar 
  • Represents a hotel developer and owner in connection with the negotiation of hotel management documentation with a Saudi-based hotel company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Negotiated development agreements with numerous governments and assisted governments in enacting pro-development legislation to attract and facilitate increased investment, particularly in emerging tourism economies