Overview

HunterMaclean is the leading business law firm in Georgia outside of Atlanta. It is listed as one of the “Top 10 firms that understand economic development” by Southern Business and Development Magazine.

The Firm’s economic development team of Drew Ernst, Harold Yellin, Ben Hartman, and Ron Talley collectively has over 100 years of experience in all phases of economic development including site identification, land acquisition, environmental permitting, governmental relations, zoning, ad valorem taxation, industrial incentives, real estate financing, and leasing. Each of them has been directly involved for many years in developing public-private partnerships with state and local governments to produce growth for the region.

Experience

  • Representing BMC Consultancy, AG, a Swedish company, in locating and developing the world’s most advanced wood pellet mill in Waycross, Georgia, and in developing warehouse facilities for exporting 750,000 metric tons of wood pellets per year to Europe through the Port of Savannah. The plant consumes approximately 250 truckloads of timber per day and produces approximately twenty-two rail cars of wood pellets per day.
  • Representing the Jekyll Island-State Park Authority in redeveloping Jekyll Island, which is wholly owned by the State of Georgia. The project, which is ongoing, includes a new convention center, parks, relocated railways and island entrance, two new hotels, and a retail village.
  • Representing Batson-Cook Development Company and several other companies in the development of News Place on Ellis Square in the Savannah historic district. The project, which opened in the summer of 2008, includes a city-owned 1075-space subterranean parking garage constructed under a historic square, the restoration of Ellis Square, construction of a new hotel, restoration of the historic Savannah Morning News buildings for a Ruth’s Chris Steak House and other retail and restaurant uses, and development of forty luxury condominium units facing Savannah River.
  • Representing Grumman Corporation, and later its successor Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, in locating its aerospace manufacturing facilities in Savannah in the 1950s. Gulfstream is now the leading employer in the Savannah area and remains a valued Firm client.
  • Representing Fort Howard Corporation (now Georgia Pacific Corporation) in locating and constructing the world’s most advanced recycled tissue mill, a $750 million investment in Effingham County, Georgia. Partner Brooks Stillwell represented the company over several years and handled land assembly of over thirty separate parcels, governmental relations, local property tax and land use issues, and negotiations with state agencies concerning road construction and environmental permitting.
  • Representing CSX Realty, the developer of the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort on Hutchinson Island, just across the Savannah River from historic downtown Savannah. Over a twelve year period, HunterMaclean partners Drew Ernst and Brooks Stillwell handled land acquisition, environmental permitting, zoning and land use issues, governmental relations including the annexation of the property into the City of Savannah, negotiation of a contract with the City that enabled irrigation of the golf course on the island with treated effluent, and formation of a public-private partnership that developed the infrastructure for the island and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, resulting in a combined investment of over $200 million.
  • Representing Great Dane Trailers in its growth and expansion projects for over fifty years.
  • Representing the owners of Oglethorpe Mall, the largest regional shopping center in South Georgia, in developing the mall in 1968 and in its expansions over a forty year period.
  • Representing the Savannah Economic Development Authority as its special environmental counsel in the development of Crossroads Business Center. Partner Drew Ernst was successful in obtaining a first-of-its-kind wetland permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which led to the pre-permitting of the wetland development within a 1,750 acre mixed-use industrial park.
  • Representing W.E.T., Inc., in developing the country’s first permitted commercial wetland mitigation bank in Screven County, Georgia, and another company in developing a second mitigation bank at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit near Conyers, Georgia, southeast of Atlanta.
  • Represented the developer of Trustees’ Garden on the site of the original gardens planted by the Trustees of the Colony of Georgia. The project is located on the site of a former manufactured gas plant. In cooperation with counsel for the seller-utility, obtained “prospective purchaser” limitation of liability certification for the buyer and developer from Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
  • Represented the owner of a 4,000 acre timber tract that was located on all four quadrants of the intersection of Interstate Highways 95 and 16 in selling the property in phases over several years. Negotiated a development agreement under which the seller obtained a percentage of the retail sales price as the property was developed.
  • Worked with developer on agreements bringing sewer and water service to a 1,100 acre mixed-use park for manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and commercial development in Bryan County, Georgia.
  • Assisted a metal fabricating business, based in the northeastern United States, with due diligence and contracting matters related to a plant expansion in north Georgia. It was a development authority transaction being structured as a lease with payments in lieu of taxes.
  • Assisted an international manufacturer of building materials in locating a new plant in Georgia, including customary due diligence, documentation related to various incentives, and related real estate matters.
  • Assisted a national clothing retailer in acquiring a distribution facility in the western United States. The transaction involved customary legal services such as negotiation of acquisition contract, coordination of all due diligence (title, survey, physical condition assessment, and environmental reports), and closing the transaction.

Publications & Presentations

Publications

An Overview of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC)

The federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program was established in 2000 by Congress to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities. The program attracts investment in low-income communities by allowing individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their federal income tax liability.

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Government Relations: The Intersection of Regulation, Public Policy, and Business

HunterMaclean attorney Harold Yellin explains how government relations lawyers can help navigate clients through complex regulatory, legislative, and public policy concerns.

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New Businesses Pose Questions for Existing Regulations

This article for Business in Savannah discusses the ways in which new businesses can challenge current guidelines and how to the best ways to navigate the process.

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The Savannah Harbor Deepening Process Continues

By Andrew H. Ernst, published on September 21, 2011, in Business in Savannah.

The deepening of the Savannah Harbor, now estimated to cost $588 million, was conditionally approved in part when Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act of 1999 (WRDA99). Those conditions included finalizing an environmental impact statement for the project as well as other supporting studies and completion of the permitting process.

The act also required the selected plan for this project, which is known as the Savannah Harbor Expansion project, or SHEP, to be jointly approved by the Secretary of Interior, the Secretary of Commerce, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Secretary of the Army.

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The 404 Permit That Couldn't, But Did - The Story of Crossroads Business Center

By Andrew H. Ernst, published on April 2, 1992, in The Journal of Environmental Permitting 1, no. 2 (Spring 1992).

Coauthored with Richard D. Knowlton, president and chief executive officer of the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA).
Originally printed in The Journal of Environmental Permitting, Vol. 1, No. 2, Spring 1992.

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The Savannah Economic Development Authority(SEDA) recently received a “first of a kind” 404 permit from the U.S. Corps of Engineers for a 1,784-acre business park based on environmental factors that affect property rather than on typical land use patterns. SEDA formed a team consisting of an engineering firm, an environmental lawyer, an environmental engineer, conservation groups, including the Georgia Conservancy, and local citizens to develop the plan and consulted with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to submission of the permit to the Corps.

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Presentations

In Search of Mitigation: Savannah Harbor Deepening Project

Presented at Wetlands and Water Law in the SE: Looking Forward, a seminar sponsored by The Seminar Group, in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 18-19, 2010, by Andrew H. Ernst.

Click here for PDF

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Public-Private Development in Historic Savannah - News Place on Ellis Square

Presented at the International Municipal Lawyers Association in Savannah, Georgia, in September 2005 by HunterMaclean Attorneys.

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The Development of Hutchinson Island, Savannah-Chatham County's Public-Private Partnership

Presented at the Real Property Law Institute, Real Property Law Section, State Bar of Georgia in Amelia Island, Florida, on April 25, 2001, by Andrew H. Ernst in conjunction with John H. McCleskey, Project Director and Developer, Savannah Harbor Resort.

Hutchinson Island is approximately 2000 acres in size. It lies in the middle of the Savannah River 800 feet north of the Savannah National Landmark Historic District. Until recently, most of the island was vacant land. It is now being developed into a major mixed-use development which contains the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort, the Savannah International Maritime Trade and Convention Center, and a significant number of retail and residential properties.

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Achieving "No Net Loss": The Future of National Wetlands Policy

Presented at the American College of Real Estate Lawyers in Washington, D.C., in October 1998 and at the Terrene Institute National Mitigation Banking Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 14, 1999, by HunterMaclean Attorneys.

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News

HunterMaclean Recognized by Southern Business & Development as one of Georgia’s Best Economic Development Law Firms

HunterMaclean was recently named one of  Georgia’s Best Economic Development Law Firms in Southern Business & Development’s first annual “Best of Economic Development in Georgia.”

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20 HunterMaclean Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016

HunterMaclean, a leading business law firm with offices in Savannah and Brunswick, is pleased to announce that 20 attorneys from the firm were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016.

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Savannah Morning News Business Advocate of the Year: Harold Yellin

Harold Yellin, a commercial real estate and zoning/land use attorney, was named Business Advocate of the Year for 2014. Julia Ritchey interviewed him for a feature article in the Savannah Morning News.

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Georgia CEO: HunterMaclean Marks 135 Years in the Practice of Law

The year 2014 marks the 135th anniversary of HunterMaclean. Lucy Adams from Georgia CEO interviewed Managing Partner Frank Macgill regarding HunterMaclean’s history, areas of expertise, milestone anniversary, and future.

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Georgia CEO: Case Study: Reimagining Our Downtown, How Greenville SC is Building One of the Best in America

In this article, Georgia CEO’s Clark Byron covers the keynote address by Mayor Knox White of Greenville, South Carolina at the 2014 HunterMaclean Critical Issues Forum, held October 8 at Savannah Technical College. Byron discusses the Mayor’s presentation about the successful revitalization efforts in Downtown Greenville and delves into the decades of work by city leaders to build “the Best Downtown in America.”

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25 HunterMaclean Attorneys Selected for The Best Lawyers in America® 2014

HunterMaclean is pleased to announce that 25 lawyers from the firm were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2014.

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28 HunterMaclean Attorneys Among 'Best'

HunterMaclean, a business law firm with offices in Savannah and Brunswick, has announced that 28 lawyers from the firm were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2013.

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Mr. Hutchinson Island

On Wednesday July 18, Savannah celebrated the accomplishments of John McCleskey, developer of Hutchinson Island. On hand were HunterMaclean attorneys Brooks Stillwell and Drew Ernst, who were key partners in bringing the Hutchinson Island project to fruition.

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Videos & Podcasts

Videos

Harold Yellin Zoning and Land Use Recipe for Growth

Video: Harold Yellin Discusses the Recipe for Growth in Savannah

Harold Yellin, zoning and land use partner, discusses finding the “recipe” for growth in Savannah.

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Mayor Knox White HunterMaclean Critical Issues Forum

Savannah Critical Issues Forum on Creating the Best Downtowns in America

The 2014 Savannah Critical Issues Forum, titled Creating the Best Downtowns in America: A Conversation with Mayor Knox White was held October 8 at Savannah Technical College. This year’s Forum was presented in partnership with the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce and the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

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Spotlight

HunterMaclean Critical Issues Forum 2014 Mayor Knox White

HunterMaclean Critical Issues Forum: Creating the Best Downtowns in America

Mayor Knox White of Greenville, S.C. was the keynote speaker for the HunterMaclean Savannah Critical Issues Forum: Creating the Best Downtowns in America.  HunterMaclean partnered with the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce and the Savannah Economic Development Authority to present the 2014 Forum.

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Big Plans: Firm Clears the Way for Westin Resort’s Development

The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa is well-known as one of the most popular and most successful hotels in Savannah, but the hotel, which is located on Hutchinson Island just across the river from Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District, had several major legal hurdles to overcome when it was first conceived in the 1980′s.

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