12010 Sunset Hills Road
Reston, Virginia 20190
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Mr. Horwatt views the drafting of real estate-related legal documents as "the legal architecture" of a development project. He drafts legal documents involving the development process as he writes contracts. Easements, for example, and other real estate instruments must capture the business purposes underlying the document, provide the background for construing and enforcing the document if a dispute develops, and spelling out the details sufficiently to avoid disputes later.
This approach treats the drafting of the purchase and sale agreement, the declarations, covenants, easements, reservations and other such "agreements" as an extension of the land use process, beginning with zoning requirements, extending to the site plan and other statutory and regulatory requirements that shape private real estate interests.
A corollary of this perspective is that clarity and consistency in creating encumbrances upon land must interrelate legal instruments with the plats, plans and profiles of a development. He has followed this approach in a wide variety of matters. He helped negotiate and draft model telecommunications facilities leases between county agencies and wireless carriers. He has negotiated and drafted leases, agreements for the purchase and sale of both improved and unimproved properties, development agreements, including phased acquisition agreements, cross-easements, offsite easements, cost sharing agreements and other development documents. His practice also extends to negotiating bond releases, resolving obstacles to the issuance of residential and non-residential occupancy permits, negotiating the terms of conservation bonds, and resolving disputes over building code enforcement and government work stoppages.
A 2007 Washingtonpost. com column referred to Michael Horwatt as one of the "go-to-real-estate attorneys" in Northern Virginia. The Washingtonian Magazine has named him to Best Lawyers in the Washington Area for his expertise in land use and real estate law. Now beginning his 47th year as a Virginia attorney, he is listed in Best Lawyers in America and in Martindale Hubbell's Distinguished Lawyers in America. He holds the coveted AV peer-driven rating by Martindale Hubbell. He has been listed in Best Lawyers In America for more than a quarter of a century.
As chair of the citizens' committees that culminated in the Fairfax County Government Center and the Fairfax Center Comprehensive Plan, Horwatt got a graduate education in the workings of local government. He has successfully rezoned residential, multifamily commercial and industrial properties. As counsel to several Tysons Corner developers, knowledgeable observers credit him with devising and implementing a strategy to transform the Tysons five-year plan review within discrete supervisory districts to a countywide planning process. His versatile real estate practice ranges from his work on public-private projects such as the I-95 Resource Recovery Facility, to intricate multi-developer cost-sharing arrangements for the provision of public facilities involved in McNair Farms, a project in Western Fairfax County.
Mr. Horwatt was Vice Chairman of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Commission (19 years) and its longest-serving member (26 years). He was the first general counsel for the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and served on its Board of Directors for many years. He has chaired commissions and task forces that have helped shape Fairfax County, including the Government Center Master Plan Committee and the [Routes] 50/66 Task Force. He served as an assistant commonwealth's attorney and as a substitute judge for the General District Court of Fairfax County.
Mr. Horwatt received his law degree from the University of Virginia and his BA degree in political science from Grinnell College. He currently maintains his offices and lives in Reston, Virginia