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Mara E. Cushwa Partner

Mara serves as chair of the firm’s Real Estate group and has had responsibility for management and oversight of the practice for 10 years.  Her practice focuses on real estate law, real estate development and secured financing transactions. Mara is experienced in representing large public and privately-held companies in real estate law aspects of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.


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Mara has worked with  corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, individuals and other entities as landowners in connection with a broad range of development objectives. She counsels clients through property acquisition and assembly, zoning and entitlements, enabling legislation, financing, development, divestiture and environmental matters impacting real estate transactions. She represents lenders and borrowers in structuring, securing and documenting senior, mezzanine and construction loans.  Mara is experienced in commercial, industrial and mineral leasing.  She advises middle market and smaller companies in creating entities for purposes of managing and investing in real estate. She has experience with private placements and investment syndications.  Mara counsels a diverse range of clients on issues involving environmental diligence and compliance, conservation easements, title insurance matters, leasing, construction and condominium law.  She has worked with hospital clients in connection with acquisitions, leasing, structured financings and medical condominiums.  Mara is experienced in representing mining industry clients with sophisticated real estate and finance transactions.

Mara is engaged in the community in active, volunteer leadership roles on the boards of directors of local organizations. She is a member of the board of directors of Recovery Resources, serving on its Executive Committee and as Chair of the Recovery Resources Facilities Committee. She was elected to the Case Western Reserve University Law Society of Benchers and was a long-standing member and past president of the Case Western Reserve law alumni board. She is an advisor to two private scholarship foundations. She is a director and officer for the Mayfield Sand Ridge Club. She is sought out for her knowledge by publications and conference hosts, including Inside Business and Lorman. Mara remains active in the American and Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Associations and she is a member of the Urban Land Institute and International Council of Shopping Centers.

She began her tenure with Calfee in 1990, becoming a partner in 2000. Mara is a member of the firm’s executive committee and is chair of the firm’s hiring committee.

Representative experience:

  • Negotiated and documented of all deal agreements including purchase and sale agreement, master lease, affiliate guaranty, lender consents, and operating company subleases for a recapitalization, sale-leaseback transaction involving a client’s sale of its R&D, manufacturing and office facility and the triple net leaseback of the site. Our work included title, survey and site diligence.
  • Served as local counsel to: a joint venture hospitality client to solve zoning, entitlements and title issues, as well as ground lease and parking rights assumption issues associated with a Cleveland hotel acquisition; and a hospitality joint venture in connection with the acquisition and financing for the redevelopment of a downtown Cleveland hotel property. Counseled client on mortgages, and subordination and intercreditor agreements to address priority and security issues between public and private lenders, and international investment fund investor. Represented entrepreneurial client on the purchase, financing and redevelopment and, ultimately, the sale of a boutique hotel property.
  • Represented designer, manufacturer and marketer of swimwear on the negotiation and documentation of its lease for a 190,000 sq. ft. new chief assembly, distribution and office facility.
  • Represented designer, manufacturer and marketer of swimwear on the negotiation and documentation of its lease for a 190,000 sq. ft. new chief assembly, distribution and office facility.
  • Represented industrial mining client in connection with the acquisition of a resin manufacturing facility and a multi-parcel industrial complex. Negotiated and documented the real estate purchase covenants, and counseled client through complex title and survey diligence, road vacation matters, and the negotiation of lease and side track agreements with railroad.
  • Represented a transportation authority in connection with its development of a multi-modal transportation facility, office building and retail complex. Negotiated and drafted cooperative development agreement and a long-term parking structure lease with the local city. Crafted requests for proposals for client use in engaging property manager, and drafted lease forms for the office and retail portions of the project.
  • Represented non-profit client in connection with the subdivision of its campus and sale of developed and undeveloped parcels to medical industry users. Negotiated and documented declaration of easements, covenants and restrictions, shared parking, access and utilities easements, and building restrictions.
  • Represented retirement system on its sale of a multi-tenant office tower including drafting purchase and sale agreement, assignments of leases, assignments of REAs, permits and licenses, contracts and management agreement; allocations of rents, security deposits and leasing costs; satisfaction of title concerns; and creation of construction escrows.
  • Represented owner of Frank Lloyd Wright property in creating a conservation and preservation easement with historical society.