Grant Puleo focuses his practice on a wide variety of real estate, finance and business transactions. He serves as a team lead for the Duane Morris Education industry group. He has extensive experience in a broad array of commercial, multi-family and educational facility real estate transactions, including acquisitions, development, construction, P3, syndication, opportunity zones, dispositions and specialized leasing and financing of all product types throughout California and the United States. Mr. Puleo's finance experience includes both borrower and lender representation in the origination and workout of complicated debt and equity transactions, such as acquisition and construction financing, mezzanine financing and synthetic leasing transactions. He also represents clients in business matters involving the transfer of business assets and the formation and restructuring of joint ventures, private placements, opportunity funds and other business entities.
Mr. Puleo is also a seasoned trial attorney, having tried over a dozen jury trials and several dozen binding arbitrations and mediations involving real estate, finance and business disputes as well as risk management and litigation avoidance counseling. Mr. Puleo has also testified as an expert witness in trial, binding arbitration and in deposition.
Mr. Puleo is an adjunct professor of law at California Western School of Law, where he lectures on commercial real estate transactions. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Endeavor Bank and serves as pro bono legal counsel for various non-profit clients.
Represented a private investment firm focused on commercial real estate in the U.S. and Europe in all aspects of the June 2020 acquisition and financing of a San Antonio-based property management firm with a portfolio including 30,000 apartment homes; the acquisition expands the investment firm's integrated real estate platform of capital raising, acquisitions and property management, as well as its holdings in the “necessity housing” market.
- Assisted a national bank’s trust department in the short term refinance and subsequent sale of a luxury apartment complex in San Diego, California for approximately $98 million.
- Assisting student housing owner/developer/operator with the ground up development of two off campus student housing projects at a California state university.
- Assisted bank clients in originating dozens of acquisition and construction loans and revolving lines of credit, totaling over $250 million.
- Represented owner/operator in $183 million bulk financings through KeyBank National Association by Fannie Mae covering improved real property in Texas, Iowa, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Kansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida and Georgia.
- Represented multi-family owner/operator in more than $100 million in loans through Holliday, Fenoglio, Fowler, LP (HFF) under the Freddie Mac CME and Portfolio loan program, covering multi-family properties in West Virginia, Oklahoma, California, North Carolina, Arizona and others states.
- Assisted one of the nation's largest student housing owners/operators with acquisitions over totaling over $450 million of student housing projects throughout the country.
- Assisted client with acquisition and financing of off campus student housing projects servicing U.C. Riverside, ASU, University of Oklahoma, East Carolina University and University of Akron.
- Assisted private equity client in acquiring and financing $25 million purchase of chain of 30 family style restaurants in the Midwest and an $8 million purchase of a chain of seven barbeque restaurants in Texas as well as representing the client with franchise, real property, finance, leasing, and franchise litigation regarding other restaurant chains owned by the client.
- Assisted client with acquisition and financing of $20 million off campus student housing project servicing University of Arizona.
- Represented hotel owner in all aspects of the sale or repositioning of three landmark hotel resort properties in Southern California (totaling over $100 million); including negotiating the real estate, finance and joint venture for a landmark hotel and convention center and other marquee hotel properties in Southern California, negotiating a ground lease transfer with the Port of San Diego, employee transfer for union and non-union hotels and closing real estate, finance, liquor and bulk sale escrows.
- Represented one of the leading buyers, owners and managers of student housing in the U.S. in acquiring over $500 million in student housing (over 7,000 beds of off-campus, purpose built student housing) including drafting and negotiating purchase and sale documents, joint venture agreements with institutional partners, co-invest documents, revolving lines of credit and obtaining new debt or assuming existing loans secured by such projects and ongoing legal issues in the ownership and management of the assets and drafting all commercial leases for projects with a retail component.
- Represented client in negotiating a $300+ million joint venture with a major venture partner for a 10-year programmatic joint venture investment in over $600 million in core and value add student housing projects around the country and a $50+ million joint venture with another venture partner for a value add joint venture to acquire up to $100 million in student housing projects around the country.
- Represent several trustees in administration of large trusts which contain real estate assets under trust (current clients have over $200 million in real estate trust assets).
- Assisted California finance lender in origination of approximately 25 first trust deed loans for acquisition and/or construction financing for projects in California and throughout the United States.
- Represented a prominent local bank in connection with over $100 million of financings including several large revolving lines of credit and multiple draws secured by real property, pledge of distressed Notes or REO around the country as well as multiple A&D and construction loans for hospitality, multifamily and senior housing projects secured by first trust deeds in California, Florida, Oregon, and other major markets.
- Represented sellers, buyers and lenders of all classes of income producing properties such as multi-family, student housing, fractured condo projects, office buildings, resort properties and retail centers in all markets in the United States, including handling acquisition, financing, private equity, joint venture formation and disposition and ongoing leasing.
- Represented traditional and non-traditional lenders in secured and mezzanine loan originations and workouts, totaling billions of dollars in financing.
- Represented private equity and opportunity fund clients in acquisition and financing of distressed promissory notes and REO properties (representing original principal amounts well exceeding $500 million) and draft private placement and subscription documents for such funds and handling the acquisitions and financings of assets closing into such funds.
- Represented major tenants in leasing/subleasing of millions of square feet of office, retail, industrial, R&D and lab facilities.
- Represented several charter school and healthcare district clients with unique issues presented in the leasing and acquisition and disposition of charter school and hospital facilities.
Areas of Practice
- Real Estate
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, J.D., 1995
- Notes Editor, International Law Journal
- Order of the Coif
- American Jurisprudence Award, Evidence
- American Jurisprudence Award, Professional Responsibility
- San Diego State University, B.A., 1990
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2014-present
- Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP
- Partner, 2004-2014
- Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP
- Associate, 2003
- Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP
- Associate, 2000-2003
- American Bar Association
- Advisory Panel
- Trusted Charitable Advisor at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego
- Advisory Board
Pro Bono legal counsel for various charitable organizations
Honors and Awards
Finalist, San Diego Business Journal Leaders in Law Awards, 2019
Named a Top Attorney In San Diego by Modern Luxury magazine, 2019 and 2020
America's Most Honored Professionals - Top 1%
Recognized as a top lawyer and legal leader in Banking & Finance in The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and The National Law Journal
Best of the Bar, The San Diego Business Journal, 2014 through 2019
Voted San Diego Super Lawyers for Real Estate, 2012 through 2020
Voted Southern California's Top Rated Lawyers, 2012 through 2019
- Top Lawyer in California for highest ethical standards and professional excellence as listed in The Legal Network
- AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
Civic and Charitable Activities
- Convivio Center
- Pro Bono Legal Counsel
- Rescued Cards
- Pro Bono Legal Counsel
- Featured in "Duane Morris Works on Hotel Deal," Los Angeles Daily Journal, June 10, 2014
- "Negotiate or Litigate: Landlord's Dilemma When Faced With a Defaulting Tenant," January 15, 2014
- Author of Defaults and Remedies Chapter of Ground Lease Practice (2nd ed. Cal. CEB 2009)
- Co-author, "Mezzanine Loans to Developers and Owners of Real Estate Projects: 10 Ways to Improve the Quality of the Equity Pledge," The Real Estate Finance Journal, Spring 2007
- "So, You Want to Advertise and Sell Your Mexican Residential Real Estate Project in the United States—Now What?" October 1, 2007
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Moderator, Investment Panel, Interface San Diego Mixed Use Conference, San Diego, CA, June 18, 2020
- Moderator, "National Macroeconomic Outlook and Implications for the Student Housing Market," IMN Student Housing 360, Dana Point, CA, January 16, 2020
Speaker, "Foreclosing on a Real Estate Mezzanine Loan," CLE program, Strafford Webinars, October 8, 2019
Moderator, "National Outlook: Macro Trends Across the US," Bisnow National Student Housing Summit, Bisnow Media, June 5, 2019
Speaker, "Title Insurance For Real Estate Mezzanine Financing," CLE program, Strafford Webinars, February 14, 2019
Speaker, "How Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Firms Are Using Technology To Drive Measurable Results Across All Aspects Of Their Business," IMN Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunity & Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, CA, January 17, 2019
Moderator, "Investing through Qualified Opportunity Zones," Opal Family Office & Private Wealth Forum West 2018, October 25, 2018
Speaker, "Hot Topics in Commercial Leasing," Lexvid Continuing Professional Education, October, 18, 2018
- "Multi-Faceted Multi-Family Panel," IMN's 3rd Annual Real Estate Family Office and Private Wealth Management Forum (West) Huntington Beach, California, May 11, 2017
- "Loan Participations and Purchased Loans: Structuring Participation Agreements, Lender Due Diligence," Strafford Webinar, March 31, 2016
- "Real CRE Deals: Case Study-Led New Best Practices for JVs," IMN's 13th Annual Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunity & Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, California, January 22, 2016
- "Small is Beautiful (But Challenging) in Today's Market: A Strategy Update from Small-Mid Sized Funds," IMN 12th Annual Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunity & Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, California, January 21-23, 2015
- "Mezzanine Financing for Middle Market Deals: Significant Developments," The Knowledge Group: Live Webinar, November 3, 2014
- "Pledge Agreements for Partnerships & LLCs," Webinar/Teleconference, April 2, 2013
- "Get it While it's Hot! The Potential Within Multi-Family in 2013," IMN 10th Annual Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunities & Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, California, January 25, 2013
- "Pledge Agreements for Partnership and LLC Equity Interests," Webinar/Teleconference, April 3, 2012
- IMN's Bank & Financial Institution Special Asset Executive Conference on Real Estate Workouts, Los Angeles, September 26-27, 2011
- "Pledge Agreements for Partnership and LLC Equity Interests," Phone/Web Seminar, June 30, 2011
- "Hot Topics in Leasing," San Diego County Bar Association, San Diego, August 2010
- "Advising International Clients in Times of Opportunities," San Diego, May 20, 2010
- "Mezzanine Loans/CMBS/Multiparty Workouts," Bankers Forum on Distressed Properties and Real Estate Loans, New York, April 19-20, 2010
- "What Real Estate Lawyers and Their Clients Need to Know About the Credit Market Crisis: Understanding How it Can Impact Your Clients & Proactive Client Strategies to Gain Access to Capital," Reed Seminars, June 5, 2009
- "Borrower and Real Estate Mezzanine Lender Workouts: Case Studies," 6th Annual Western Borrowers' and Investors' Forum on Real Estate Mezzanine Loans & Distressed Real Estate Debt, Los Angeles, April 2, 2009
- "Commercial and Real Estate Loan Documents: More Than Just Papers," Lorman Education Service Seminar, San Diego, November 2008
- "lntercreditor Issues in Commercial Real Estate Workouts," Commercial Real Estate Workouts, Turnarounds & REO, Irvine, California, July 21-23, 2008
- "The Intercreditor Agreement: How Have the Details Changed Since the Early 90s," 5th Annual Western Borrowers' & Investors' Forum on Real Estate Mezzanine Loans, Los Angeles, April 14, 2008
- "What Are Lenders Doing With Underperforming Properties Pre-Foreclosure?" Symposium on Distressed Residential Real Estate, Miami, March 20, 2008