Denise A. Pursley

Denise Pursley leads Nixon Peabody’s national Real Estate practice, which encompasses Nixon Peabody’s real estate, affordable housing, environmental and land use practices. As practice group leader, Denise is responsible for managing and setting strategy for the group and its industry teams. Denise advises on all aspects of commercial real estate, real estate finance, development, land-use and environmental law. She works with national company owners and operators, institutional investors, pension fund advisors, real estate developers, institutional lenders and investment banks.

What do you focus on?

I focus on real estate acquisitions and dispositions, leasing, development, management and debt and equity financing for all asset classes. The industries with which I work vary from commercial real estate developers to health care facilities to institutional investors to energy providers and telecommunication companies. Typically, the projects on which I work are complex or of strategic importance to our clients and may be located anywhere in the country.


I have substantial experience in all facets of acquisition, disposition, leasing and mergers and acquisitions. A hallmark of my practice is to assemble and carefully lead selected teams to undertake sophisticated due diligence projects. For example, I have coordinated real estate due diligence and closed projects that run the gamut from the purchase of equity interest in a wind farm tax equity limited liability company with projects in five states to the purchase of a national supermarket chain with more than 230 properties under ownership, lease or sublease.

Environmental Projects

Some of my favorite projects have been working to bring new life to environmentally contaminated properties and brownfields. Adaptive re-use of property can revitalize an entire neighborhood. A typical project would be the sale of a facility that is a federal or state superfund site, inactive hazardous waste site or former industrial facility. Recently, I worked closely with a client’s internal and external team of business, real estate and environmental professionals to negotiate the sale of a former industrial facility for commercial re-use in a downtown area on terms and conditions that satisfied state regulators and allowed the purchaser to achieve its development goals. My combination of real estate and environmental experience makes me the ideal lawyer for these complex projects.

Energy Projects

I also provide critical advice on real estate and environmental issues associated with electric, gas and renewable energy projects. I’ve represented project developers and equity investors in wind, solar and geothermal energy facilities coast-to-coast. These complex deals involve real estate, environmental, zoning, land use entitlement and governmental permitting and require me to work collaboratively with our multi-disciplinary client teams.

What do you see on the horizon?

Health care-related real estate work continues to be very active as the health care industry reacts to the implementation of governmental programs. I have developed a deep understanding of the industry from years of working with hospitals, physician groups and others in the health care industry that enables me to provide practical advice to my clients. I also expect to see more adaptive re-use of excess retail assets that are returning to the market as a result of business model adjustments and right-sizing of footprints by retailers.

Representative Experience

  • Represented an affordable housing developer in the $170 million acquisition and redevelopment of a 30-story building in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY into a 550-unit supportive housing facility, including financing by the City of New York Department of Housing Preservation and negotiation of a zoning lot development agreement.
  • Represented Chinese developer in the $390 million purchase of a multi-lot waterfront development site adjacent to Manhattan’s historic South Street Seaport district and approximately 818,000 sf of transferable development rights without height restriction and a zoning lot development agreement.
  • Represented the developer of one of the largest solar energy production facilities in New York in the acquisition and redevelopment of a 150-acre private golf course in Suffolk County, NY, into a 24.9 MW solar facility, including obtaining land use and zoning approvals from the Town of Brookhaven.
  • Represented the New York City Economic Development Corporation in a potential 99-year lease of the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan for redevelopment into a hotel, restaurant, and related uses.
  • Represented publically traded company in a build-to-suit lease of a 702,000 sf industrial/warehouse space in Rialto, California.
  • Represented U.S. subsidiary of an international defense, aerospace and security company in a build-to-suit lease of a research and development and light manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • Represented developer in the acquisition and development of a $1.584 billion, 1,100 MW natural-gas-fired plant to be built on a former industrial site in the mid-Hudson Valley region of NY.  Representation included the negotiation of a long-term option to purchase agreement, multiple off-site leases, transmission right-of-way and easement agreement with public utilities.
  • Represented national not for profit corporation in the sale of an approximately 125-acre site of a former rehabilitation facility located in Westchester County, NY.
  • Represented institutional owner of 350,000 sq. ft. midtown Manhattan office building for all leasing, financing and property management.
  • Represented institutional owner for leasing of more than 2 million sq. ft. of industrial/warehouse property in New Jersey.
  • Represented international bakery company in the restructuring of owned and leased manufacturing, warehouse and distribution facilities in New York and New Jersey.
  • Represented a U.S. top 50 insurance provider in multi-state leasing and subleasing transactions totaling more than 300,000 sq. ft. to date, including more than 133,000 sq. ft. in a historic New York City building for company’s headquarters.
  • Represented purchaser of a $63.5 million midtown Manhattan office building and associated $62 million mortgage loan.
  • Represented private owner in connection with the sale of a prominent Long Island hotel and convention center.
  • Represented major investment bank in tax equity investment of multi-state wind facilities throughout the West and Midwest.
  • Represented major investment bank in tax equity investment in a geothermal power facility in Arizona.
  • Represented pension fund in the $62 million acquisition of an office/hotel complex in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
  • Represented private utility company in the negotiation of an option agreement for 132 acres in the state of New York for the development of a 1,000 MW natural gas-fired electric generation plant.
  • Represented Westchester County hospital in the acquisition of a bankrupt hospital consisting of 12 separate parcels located in New York City and Westchester, including all environmental, title and land use due diligence, negotiation of PSA and option to sell back a portion of the property, purchase money financing and closing of title.
  • Represented special servicer in connection with distressed and non-performing assets, including loan modifications, sale of loans and foreclosures.
  • Represented utility in negotiation of an underwater high-voltage, direct current line and fiber optic cable in Long Island Sound.
  • Represented institutional owner in the sale of a shopping center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
  • Represented utility company in the sale of a former liquefied natural gas plant on Staten Island for development as a NASCAR race track and shopping center.
  • Represented pension fund in the sale of a Class A office building in Stamford, Connecticut.
  • Represented natural gas company in real estate and condemnation work in connection with a gas pipeline expansion project in New York State.
  • Represented energy joint venture in connection with local land use and real estate work for a proposed underwater interstate natural gas pipeline intended to serve Long Island, New York City and Connecticut.
  • Represented defense contractor in the sale of a former defense manufacturing facility in New York State.
  • Represented hospital in the lease/buildout of approximately 225,000 sq. ft. of medical office and ambulatory surgery space in a former corporate headquarters/manufacturing building.
  • Represented private company in the sale of a hotel in Islip, New York.

Nixon Peabody adds three more lawyers to Affordable Housing, Real Estate bench

The American Lawyer | December 09, 2021

This article features the arrival of Chaundi Randolph in Washington, DC, Karla Chaffee in Boston, and Daniel Perlin in Chicago as counsel in NP’s Affordable Housing & Real Estate practice. The article also quotes AHRE practice group leader Denise Pursley on recent growth across the practice and the increased demand for legal services.

How NYCs top real estate law firms got creative in an unusual year

The Real Deal | October 05, 2021

This article in New York City’s top real estate trade publication—part of a special report on law firms and real estate attorneys—quotes Affordable Housing & Real Estate practice group leader and Long Island partner Denise Pursley on the uncharted waters of the eviction moratorium and how we’ve been advising clients. The story also notes the firm’s work with pro bono organizations, such as Lawyers Clearinghouse, in helping tenants who could be vulnerable to eviction.

Coronavirus Q&A: Nixon Peabody's Real Estate Leader

Law360 | September 18, 2020

Affordable Housing & Real Estate practice group leader and Long Island partner Denise Pursley is featured in this Q&A article, where she provides her outlook on the real estate industry and how it’s been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.


Denise A. Pursley

Practice Group Leader, Real Estate

Long Island

Phone: 516-832-7542

New York

Phone: 212-224-7618

Fax: 866-947-2028

New York Law School, J.D., magna cum laude (Notes Editor, New York Law School Law Review)

University of Florida, B.S., (recipient of Dean's Cup for Service)

New York

New Jersey


U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey

Denise was selected, through a peer-review survey, for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2022 in the field of Real Estate Law. She has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2020.

Denise was recognized in the 2014 edition of The Legal 500: USA as a Leading Lawyer in the Real Estate category.

Denise has been recognized three times by the Long Island Business News as one of Long Island’s Top 50 Most Influential Women in Business and is in the program’s Hall of Fame. She was named a rising star by Long Island Business News in its “40 Under 40” list in 2000.

Denise also has been recognized for her exceptional standing in the legal community in real estate in the 2007, 2010 and 2011 editions of New York Super Lawyers magazine (Metro Edition).

Best Lawyers In America ®, The Legal 500 United States, Long Island Business News and Super Lawyers periodically review lawyer credentials and solicits, reviews and evaluates peer feedback in determining who receives recognition. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey or any other applicable state bar reviewing authority.

Denise Pursley is the former general counsel of the Long Island Housing Partnership, Inc. (“LIHP”), a nationally recognized nonprofit corporation facilitating the development of affordable and workforce housing on Long Island. She is an active member of several national and local organizations, including CoreNet Global, ICSC (Innovating Commerce Serving Communities), the Women Economic Developers of Long Island (“WEDLI”) and the Association for a Better Long Island (“ABLI”). As a leader in her field, Denise has served as chair of the Environmental Law Committee of the Nassau County Bar Association and is a member of the New York and Florida State bar associations. She is a frequent presenter and author on timely topics related to real estate, environmental and sustainable development.

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