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A Better Partnership

Melissa N. Collar

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2209

    f. +1.616.222.2209


For 20+ years, Melissa Collar has assisted clients in the acquisition, development, construction, leasing and sale of real property. She regularly prepares architect, construction, design/build, build-transfer, development and integrated project delivery contracts for owners, architects and contractors, condominium documents, tax incentive and abatement applications and leases, as well as handles Land Division Act documentation and real estate brokerage matters. Melissa is chair of the firm’s Condominium Practice Group, co-chair of the Infrastructure and Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Industry Group and past chair of the Real Estate Services Practice Group. She is also a licensed real estate broker.


  • Wayne State University Law School J.D. 1994 cum laude
  • University of Michigan B.A. 1991 with distinction


  • 1994, Michigan

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Construction Industry Forum, Business Law Section, Law Practice Management Section, Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Ex-Officio (2018-19); Chair (2017-18), Chair-Elect (2016-17), Vice Chair (2015-16), Treasurer (2014-15), Secretary (2013-14), Real Property Section; Chair of the Continuing Legal Education Committee of the Council (2009-13)
    Co-Chair, Construction Committee (2007)
    Co-Chair of Summer Conferences (2007-08)
    Council Coordinator (2008-Present)
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association, Real Property Section (1995-Present); Continuing Legal Education Committee (1996-98)

Honors & Awards

  • Named a “Leader in the Field” for Real Estate Law in Michigan by Chambers USA, 2017-Present
  • Fellow, American College of Real Estate Lawyers, Class of 2016
  • Named the Best Lawyers' Grand Rapids Construction (2018 and 2014) and Real Estate (2015) Law Lawyer of the Year
  • Named as one of the Top 50 Women Michigan Super Lawyers, 2015
  • Named as one of the Top 25 Women Business Super Lawyers, 2015
  • Honored by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as one of its 2014 “Women in the Law”
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Honored as an “Extraordinary Leader” by the Center for Community Leadership, 2015
  • Named in 2011 and 2015 as one of Inforum's 40 Inner Circle honorees
  • Best Lawyers in America, Construction Law and Real Estate Law, 2010-Present
  • Named to Michigan Super Lawyers, 2007-Present
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014
  • Named in 2007 as one of 40 up-and-coming leaders in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, "40 Under 40"
  • Woman of Distinction, YMCA, 2006


  • Prepared and negotiated more than $1 billion in Build Transfer Agreements and Development Agreements for wind and solar energy in Michigan and Wisconsin for regulated utility providers
  • Prepared and negotiated the development of Arena Place, a $50 million, 200,000 square foot mixed-use property and The Venue/20 Monroe, a $33 million entertainment and housing project, both in the redeveloping core of downtown Grand Rapids
  • Real estate counsel to both the Canadian government and the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority in connection with the $4.4 billion international bridge project, consisting of the acquisition and development of the U.S. Federal Plaza on the Michigan side of the Gordie Howe International Bridge
  • Prepared and negotiated hotel development acquisition documents for franchised hotels for franchisee hotel operators
  • Negotiated all leases for two major national retailers with more than 350 locations across the country, one regional retailer with 75 locations and several smaller restaurant chains
  • Prepared and negotiated design, construction, purchase agreements and lease documents for the $280 million Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and the $100 million Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion
  • Assisted in the acquisition, development and construction contracting of NASCAR race team headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Handled and negotiated integrated project delivery construction project for prominent owner/developer in Michigan
  • Prepared and negotiated a $500 million subcontract for multi-state distribution centers
  • Significant tax abatement experience includes the preparation of several dozen applications for tax abatements up to $10 million for companies ranging in size from small firms to large publicly traded manufacturers
  • Prepared, negotiated and oversaw upwards of 400 wireless (cell) tower leases for wireless communication providers in the Midwest region
  • Oversaw and coordinated the acquisition of four wind farm projects in Michigan with more than 600 parcels
  • Prepared and negotiated Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Agreements and real estate documents for major utility providers including for the alternative and renewable energy sectors such as for wind and solar projects
  • Prepared various real estate and construction documents in connection with two renewable energy companies' acquisition and build out of their infrastructure in Michigan
  • Extensive experience with the preparation of complex condominium documents for office, medical, hotel, marinas, RV campgrounds and mixed use developments. Representative transactions include The Rowe, The Morton, the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, Town Square Mixed Use Condominium, and Midtown Parking Condominium, which range in project construction cost from $5 million to $80 million.
  • Assemblage of multiple parcels including retail, health care, and mixed use sites, including the Venue, a $30 million project
  • Significant experience in real estate broker licensing issues, including establishing brokerage companies and counseling on licensing matters
  • Extensive experience with quasi-public construction projects using federal and state economic incentives and grants as funding sources
  • Experienced with Farmland Development Rights Agreements and releases, conservation easements, Qualified Agricultural Property exemptions, crop leases and alternative energy agreements
  • Furnished real estate and construction support on numerous multimillion-dollar New Market Tax Credit projects, such as Heart of the City Health Care and Bay Area YMCA



  • Decreasing Real and Personal Property Taxes - PA 198 Tax Abatements


Professional Affiliations

  • American College of Real Estate Attorneys
    Leasing Committee, Librarian (2017-Present)
  • American Institute of Architects
  • Commercial Alliance of Realtors
  • Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW)
  • Grand Rapids Association of Realtors
  • Home and Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids
  • Michigan Land Title Association (2002-04)
  • West Michigan Minority Contractors Association
    Advisory Committee (2008-10)
  • Warner Norcross + Judd LLP
    Co-Chair, Infrastructure and Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Group (2017-Present); Chair, Real Estate Services Group (2009-16); Chair, Condominium Practice Group (2002-Present); Chair, Space Planning (2014-16); Nominating Committee (2005); Chair, Real Estate Services Group Form Committee (1997-2002); Career Development Committee (1997-99)

Community Affiliations

  • Inforum - a Professional Women's Alliance
    State Board of Directors (2015-Present and 2007-09); Ex-Officio (2015-16), West Michigan Regional Council (2005-17), Chair (2015-17), Vice Chair (2013-15); State Nominating Committee (2007-08); Regional Nominating Committee (2008-17); Chair, Communications Subcommittee (2005-07)
  • Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan
    Chair (2004); Board of Directors (2002-07)
  • Children’s Museum Exploratory Committee (2018-Present)
  • Grand Rapids Downtown Market
    Leasing Committee (2012-Present)
  • Habitat for Humanity of Eastern Ottawa County
    Board of Directors (1996-01)
  • Leadership Grand Rapids
    Class of 2007
  • University of Michigan Young Alumni Association
  • Women's Resource Center
    Board of Directors (1998-02); 25th Anniversary Commemorative Committee (1997); Pillar Awards Host Committee (2016)

Speaking Engagements

  • "When You've Seen One P3, You've Seen One P3: The Emergence of and Ideas Behind Public/Private Partnerships," ACREL Fall 2019 Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, 10/17/19 - 10/20/19
  • “Building Michigan: Anatomy of a Public Private Partnership” State Bar of Michigan Real Property Section Summer Conference, Boyne Falls, Michigan 7/11/19
  • Retail Roundtable: West Michigan retail sector prepares for changes, prioritizes customer experience,” MiBiz, 6/9/2019
  • Inforum EL, Warner Grand Rapids, Michigan, offices, 4/23/19
  • 2019 ICSC State of the Law, Novi, Michigan, 2/14/19, 2/13/20
  • The Yellow Brick Road. Are Public Private Partnerships the Pot of Gold for Infrastructure Development?,” ACREL Fall Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, 10/20/18
  • “Land Division Act,” Real Property Law Academy II, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 10/10/18, 5/8/19
  • “Wisdom for Women - Insights to Grow Your Wealth and Career,” Words of Wisdom Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 10/2/18
  • "PFAs," Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, 3/28/18
  • Inforum Center for Leadership, 2014, 2016, 2018
  • "An Overview of the EPC Agreement and Process," Jackson, Michigan, 3/13/17
  • "Every Company Needs a Corporate 'Home,'" 2017 Women's Foundation, Entrepreneur YOU Conference, Lansing, Michigan, 3/10/17
  • Legal Update, International Council of Shopping Centers, Novi, Michigan, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Legal Update, State Bar of Michigan Real Property Section Winter Conference, Phoenix, Arizona, 2016
  • Land Division Act, Grand Rapids Bar Association, Real Property Section, 2014
  • Legal Update, State Bar of Michigan Real Property Section Summer Conference, 2013, 2014, Crystal Mountain and Traverse City, Michigan, respectively
  • "You Have to Know It to Sell It -- Construction Basics for Brokers," International Council of Shopping Centers, Novi, Michigan, 2013
  • "Nuts to Bolts: Construction for Non-Construction Lawyers," 2012-13, Homeward Bound Series sponsored by ICLE and the State Bar of Michigan, Feb. 7, 2013, Novi, Michigan
  • Business Boot Camp, State Bar Business Law Section, Basics of Real Estate, 2011-12, 2014-15, 2017, 2018
  • Institute of Continuing Legal Education, myriad of topics, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011
  • Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors, myriad of topics, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018
  • Legal Update, West Michigan Summit, 2008, 2009
  • Synergy (Annual meeting of Michigan real estate brokers), myriad of topics, 2004, 2006, 2007
  • Legal Update, Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, 2005, 2006
  • Legal Update, Michigan Association of Realtors Annual Convention, 2004, 2005
  • Handling Legal issues in Michigan's Landlord-Tenant Relationship, National Business Institute, 3/2/2004
  • "Setting Youself Apart: Helpful Hints When Representing a Buyer as a Buyer's Agent," 2002
  • 50th Judicial Circuit Bar Association, 1998
  • Adjunct Instructor, Grand Rapids Community College, 1996, 1997, 1998

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