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John D. Gaber



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, short sales, foreclosures and loan modifications.

He is a frequent lecturer at legal and industry forums, including for 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 Section
      • Commercial Real Estate Development and Ownership Committee Co-Chair, 2012 to 2016
      • Continuing Legal Education Committee, 2011 to present
      • 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
    • Chair, RRC Charity Fund, 2015 to present
    • Director, 2010 to present
    • Chair, 2014
  • Rochester Downtown Development Authority
    • Chamber Board Liaison, 2010 to 2015
  • Rochester Community Schools Technology & Infrastructure 2020 Committee
    • Member, 2014 to 2015
  • Crittenton Hospital Medical Center
    • Cornerstone Capital Campaign, Co-Chair 2010 to 2013
    • Charitable Gifts Committee, 2008 to 2010
  • Crittenton Hospital Medical Center Foundation
    • Member, 2010 to 2013
  • St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
    • Finance Committee, 2016 to present
    • 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 present
  • Rochester Area Prayer Breakfast Committee
    • Member, 2002 to present
    • Chair, 2005
  • Rochester Hills City Council
    • Councilman, 1995 to 1999
    • President, 1999
  • Rochester Hills Planning Commission
    • Commissioner, 1996 to 1999
  • Avondale Youth Assistance
    • Director, 1995 to 1999
  • Rochester Avon Recreation Authority
    • Director, 1995 to 1999

Honors & Awards

  • “Outstanding Board Member of the Year, 2015”
    • Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • 2015 Michigan Top Lawyer
  • Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, 2014
  • AV Preeminent Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review, 2011 to present


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


Representative Matters

  • 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 college 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 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
  • Represents clients in both the sale and purchase of multi-million dollar homes
  • Formation of commercial and residential condominiums

News & Insights

Articles & Publications

  • “Danger With Cross-Defaults, State Bar of Michigan Real Property Law Section E-Newsletter, January 2010
  • ICLE/Real Property Law Section Homeward Bound Series; “Negotiating the Shopping Center Lease: Economic Opportunities and Hidden Costs,” December 2016
  • ICSC Michigan Continuing Education Program, 2012 – 2016;       Topics included Letters of Intent, Ground Leases, Lease Assignments, Subleases, Land Contracts and Alternative Financing
  • State Bar of Michigan Real Property Law Section Groundbreaker Sessions, 2014 – 2015; Topics included Letters of Intent and Subleasing
  •  State Bar of Michigan Real Property Law Section, “Lessons Learned From the Downturn,” July 2010
  • State Bar of Michigan Real Property Law Section, “Tenant’s Concerns With the Distressed Shopping Center,” July 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