David Linhart’s law practice focuses on developer financing and approvals in addition to other commercial real estate matters in the Real Estate group at Goulston & Storrs. Prior to joining the firm, David assisted in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts as part of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness, where he initiated a statewide supportive housing inventory examining resident services funding.
1. Your career path has covered a lot of ground, from cancer research and leading a reggae band, to practicing law at Goulston & Storrs today. How did this road lead you to commercial real estate?
I’m motivated when I feel that my professional efforts are directed toward outcomes that help people and add value. In prior work, I’ve appreciated the efforts of doctors that bridged clinical practice with innovation in the lab, and of musicians that created a space to connect socially. At the same time, I recognized as part of establishing my family in Boston (starting 13 years ago) that something as basic as housing allowed many other “pieces of the puzzle” to come together. Once the importance of access to housing became real to me, commercial real estate gave me the opportunity to work on mixed-use redevelopments where the bigger picture of a balanced built environment was in focus.
2. You have assisted Goulston and Storrs with supporting a client on a one million square-foot-mixed-use redevelopment in South Boston, MA in addition to other projects. What have you learned about closing these types of deals and how has it refined your approach to practicing law?
I’ve learned that teamwork makes deals happen, and the legal contribution to a development team is one piece of a larger effort. I’ve also learned that the common language for a development team is business. The details of each specialty, including architecture, engineering, public policy, and law, need to be translated into terms that allow business decisions to be made. Honestly, it still amazes me that a mixed-use tower can be approved on a parking lot and it suddenly becomes worth an incredible amount of money because it’s poised to deliver a product that will provide homes, jobs, recreation and a tax base. I like to think my goal is to see that value created as part of a team, and hopefully, to see that value shared equitably.
3. Before joining Goulston and Storrs, you worked in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts as part of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness. How does that experience shape your current work in real estate?
I relate to being “cause” driven and involved in high-level decision-making about policy that, for better or worse, impacts people’s lives in tangible ways. It is always my hope good policy decisions are made. One of the perks of law firm work has been how much perspective I’ve gained on how business uniquely deploys resources in a focused way as a compliment to good policy. I continue to care deeply about housing and homelessness, and now I’m positioned to be part of housing creation where certain populations can be targeted and resident services can be made available. I’m thankful that being at Goulston & Storrs has provided me this opportunity.
4. You have participated in ULI Boston’s Technical Assistance Panels (TAP) program, which leverages the thought expertise of ULI members to assist municipalities in addressing development challenges. What insights have you gained from your involvement in TAPs?
In my experience, the TAP program is a powerful example of coordinating diverse perspectives across land use professions to respond to difficult development challenges. I’ve been able to contribute to conversations about how a municipality can emphasize its unique character and history through tools such as overlay zoning and infrastructure investment. It is encouraging to hear community members speak passionately about what a location means to them and to be able to offer ideas for their consideration about how to advance their vision.
5. As a moonlighting musician, I’m sure you appreciate other artists. If you could rock out with another performer, who would it be?
I don’t want to say my life is divided into before and after the album “Sound and Color” by Alabama Shakes was released, but it’s tempting. I’m also way more into the album “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery” by Capital Cities than I want to admit. I would choose a songwriting collaboration with Brittany Howard, lead singer for the Alabama Shakes, with production by Sebu Simonian from Capital Cities.