Thomas J. Trautner Jr.

Member of the Firm
Thomas J. Trautner Jr. is an experienced real estate development lawyer, with a diverse practice serving as counselor, strategic architect and (when the situation calls) litigator. He excels in helping clients navigate the entitlements process through his breath of knowledge regarding often Byzantine subjects, among which include redevelopment, eminent domain and affordable housing (allowing him to cost-effectively provide guidance on a broad range of issues without the need to involve other subject matter specialists).

First trained by savages as a young commercial litigator, Tom’s practice often focused on affordable housing and eminent domain — evolving from his experience as a law clerk to the Honorable Eugene D. Serpentelli, A.J.S.C., one of the State’s original Mount Laurel Judges and a maven in the world of land use and real estate litigation. Ultimately, his practice evolved to include virtually all facets of the entitlements and redevelopment process.

As a seasoned litigator possessing a nuanced understanding of the complex regulatory scheme impacting the entitlements process, Tom is able to spot issues early and advise clients on how to avoid obstacles. His ability to draw upon his comprehensive background and experience (whether negotiating a redevelopment agreement, appearing before a hostile land use board or arguing before the New Jersey Supreme Court) affords a level of confidence and competence to find innovative approaches to getting projects timely approved and timely built while simultaneously managing costs.

Redevelopment and Land Use
Tom regularly counsels clients on applications for development to planning and zoning boards as well as state agencies in connection with retail, hotel, industrial, residential and mixed-use projects. He likewise focuses a substantial amount of his practice in assisting clients in securing or opposing redevelopment designations, negotiating redevelopment agreements and navigating the process of developing favorable redevelopment plans to allow his clients to succeed when designated as a redeveloper.

Eminent Domain
By virtue of his representation of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and other governmental agencies (as well as private property owners), Tom possesses substantial knowledge and practical experience in addressing condemnation scenarios (including relocation assistance disputes) both in and outside of redevelopment. His experience spans retail, warehouse, apartment buildings and hotel properties (including properties with valuations in excess of $20 million). Tom is likewise experienced handling matters concerning undeveloped land and vacant industrial/commercial properties in urban environments — including properties requiring environmental remediation.

Affordable Housing
As a result of his diverse experience counseling developers, municipalities and trade organizations, Tom has developed a deep understanding of affordable housing issues in New Jersey (having looked at virtually every issue from one side or another). As a young associate, he co-authored an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Industrial Office Properties in the appellate division case that overturned COAH’s Third Round Rules. In recent years, Tom has been at the forefront of helping his clients navigate the uncertainty of the affordable housing landscape before the New Jersey Courts while also being intimately involved in the preparation of briefs and arguments to the New Jersey Supreme Court on evolving issues.

Community Associations
Tom has represented numerous developers in negotiating and, when necessary, litigating condominium transition matters — including one matter where the developer faced over $80 million dollars in claims. Through aggressive and creative advocacy (in part, involving third-party claims against the condominium board of directors as well as a derivative shareholder action), the client was ultimately pleased by having the matter tied up in the Court for years, during which time certain Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act and related claims were dismissed and the matter was settled on very favorable terms.

Real Estate Litigation
Tenacious litigator is the phrase used to describe Tom in real estate litigation. Tom has achieved documented success on behalf of his clients, focusing on litigation arising from applications for development, contract disputes, property rights and actions to quiet title. He frequently argues in the New Jersey Appellate Division and has twice argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court helping to establish statewide legal precedent.

Tom is a graduate of Rutgers School of Law and a cum laude graduate of Rider University. While attending Rutgers School of Law, he served as co-chairman of the Moot Court Board and had the distinction of being named to the school’s 1998 national moot court team. Prior to joining the firm, Tom served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Eugene D. Serpentelli, Assignment Judge, Superior Court of New Jersey in Ocean County.

Education

  • Rutgers University School of Law - Newark (J.D., 1999)
  • Rider University (B.A., cum laude, 1996)

Bar & Court Admissions

  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey