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John D. Gaber

  • p. 248.642.0333 ext. 322
  • Email


John D. Gaber possesses extensive experience in the areas of real estate, corporate, general business, and commercial law. His practice focuses on property acquisition, development, land use and zoning, construction, financing and leasing matters for his real estate clients. He also represents clients in business structuring, commercial and operational matters, buy-sell agreements, acquisitions and dispositions.  He frequently engages in business and real estate dispute resolution.

John’s clients include commercial and residential real estate developers, shopping center owners, retailers, senior housing and student housing operators, multi-national corporations, closely-held entities and municipalities. He handles all aspects of real estate development, including the acquisition, entitlement, financing, construction and leasing of retail, industrial, office and mixed-use projects. He appears before municipalities, governmental agencies and various courts in land use and zoning matters. John also assists clients in commercial financing, foreclosures and loan modifications.

He is a frequent lecturer at legal and industry forums, including the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the Michigan State Bar and the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE).

Prior to joining the firm, John worked as a Senior Attorney for Kmart Corporation.

Professional Affiliations

  • State Bar of Michigan
    • Real Property Law Section
      • Council Member, 2018 to present
      • Continuing Legal Education Committee, 2011 to present
      • Commercial Real Estate Development and Ownership Committee, Co-Chair, 2012 to 2016
      • Summer Conference, Co-Chair, 2012 and 2013
    • Business Law Section
    • Taxation Section
  • American Bar Association
  • American Bar Foundation
  • Oakland County Bar Association
  • International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

Community/Civic Activities

  • Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce
    • Board of Directors, 2010 to 2023; Chair, 2014
    • Foundation Board of Directors, 2015 to present; Chair, 2015 to 2022
  • Rochester Hills Planning Commission, 1996 to 1999; 2019 to 2022
  • Rochester Downtown Development Authority, 2010 to 2015
  • Rochester Community Schools Technology & Infrastructure 2020 Committee
  • Crittenton Hospital Medical Center
    • Cornerstone Capital Campaign, Co-Chair, 2010 to 2013
    • Charitable Gifts Committee, 2008 to 2010
  • Crittenton Hospital Medical Center Foundation, 2010 to 2013
  • St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
    • Finance Committee, Chair, 2019 to 2023
    • Endowment Committee, Chair, 2008 to 2009
    • Board of Trustees, 2004 to 2007
  • Rochester Rotary Club
    • Member, 1998 to present; Director, 2001 to 2004, 2016 to 2017
  • Rochester Area Prayer Breakfast Committee
    • Member, 2002 to 2018; Chair, 2005
  • Rochester Hills City Council
    • Councilman, 1995 to 1999; President, 1999
  • Avondale Youth Assistance
    • Director, 1995 to 1999
  • Rochester Avon Recreation Authority
    • Director, 1995 to 1999 

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers® 2021 Real Estate Litigation "Lawyer of the Year" for Troy, Michigan Region
  • Best Lawyers in America© (2018 to present)
  • Michigan Top Lawyer
  • DBusiness Magazine “Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit” for Land Use & Zoning (2018 to present)
  • Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (2014 to present)
  • AV Preeminent Rating, Martindale-Hubbell (2011 to present)
  • Outstanding Board Member of the Year, Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce


  • State Bar of Michigan, 1991
  • Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, 1991


Representative Matters

  • Secured municipal land use approvals for car washes, restaurants and retailers
  • Represented student housing developer for high-rise and mid-rise apartments in Ann Arbor
  • Negotiated tax-exempt and taxable bond refinancing for an educational institution
  • Developed a large industrial park for automotive suppliers in southeastern Michigan, which included negotiation of a PUD, creation of a site condominium, leasing and disposition
  • Represented a national home improvement retailer in the development of new stores in the Midwest.  Such representation included land acquisition, ground leasing, land use and zoning approval, development and construction matters
  • Obtained zoning approvals and negotiated acquisition to redevelop existing retail and adjacent vacant land into a $28 million residential/retail mixed-use PUD
  • Negotiates sale-leasebacks, build-to-suit leases and ground leases with national retail pharmacy chains, banks and restaurants for a national developer
  • Represents multiple clients in the development, financing and operation of assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory loss and other senior living facilities
  • Represents a national developer in the acquisition and development of student housing projects
  • Assisted a major hospital group with Michigan Renaissance Zone issues to facilitate redevelopment
  • Succeeded in eliminating a designated historic district and a PUD, enabling the client to freely develop its property without the restrictions of such regulations
  • Represented a private university in negotiating a development agreement with a municipality to provide a master plan for growth and development while preserving a designated historic farmstead on the college campus
  • Negotiates business acquisitions, shareholder and buy-sell agreements, partnership and operating agreements
  • Negotiates CMBS, HUD and other financing arrangements for multiple family and manufactured housing projects
  • Prepared private placement memoranda for an asset-based lender and for real estate developments
  • Negotiates short sales, loan modifications and forbearances for commercial and residential clients
  • Assisted a municipality in southeastern Michigan in leasing production facilities to the film industry and partnering with movie production companies and other movie and media-related companies
  • Assisted in the acquisition through bankruptcy of an automotive stamping plant with 1.5 million square feet of manufacturing space and equipment for $45 million
  • Represented various private equity firms in several corporate acquisitions
  • Provides advice and counsel to municipalities relative to land use, zoning, utility and other municipal law issues
  • Negotiated multiple industrial facility leases for a multinational company
  • Represents owner-operators in the acquisition, financing, development, construction and leasing of industrial buildings
  • Obtained conditional rezonings for the development of a bank, an assisted living facility and a skilled nursing care center
  • Negotiated a PUD agreement for a 710,000sf mixed-use development
  • Formation of commercial and residential condominiums

News & Insights

Articles & Publications

  • ICSC Michigan Continuing Education Program, 2012 – 2017; Topics included Letters of Intent, Shopping Center Leasing, Ground Leases, Lease Assignments, Subleases, Land Contracts and Alternative Financing, Rezoning, Special Land Use Approvals, Drive-Thru Car Wash and Gas Station Approvals
  • ICLE/Real Property Law Section Homeward Bound Series; “Negotiating the Shopping Center Lease: Economic Opportunities and Hidden Costs,” December 2016
  • State Bar of Michigan Real Property Law Section Groundbreaker Sessions, 2012 – 2015; Topics included Letters of Intent, Construction Liens and Subleasing
  • State Bar of Michigan Real Property Law Section
    • "Decoding Loan Operating Expenses", July 2017
    • State of The Law, July 2015
    • “Lessons Learned From the Downturn,” July 2010
    • “Tenant’s Concerns With the Distressed Shopping Center,” July 2010
  • “Danger With Cross-Defaults, State Bar of Michigan Real Property Law Section E-Newsletter, January 2010 

Practices ›

Education ›


  • Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, J.D, 1991, summa cum laude
    • Wayne Law Review
    • Board of Governors’ Budget and Finance Committee
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, B.B.A. in finance, 1988, with high distinction