Arthur Menor - The Leasing Expert
Art Menor Finds Creative Solutions to Real Estate Transactions
When it comes to commercial leasing, Arthur Menor wrote the book — literally. Board-certified in real estate law, Menor is the author of the “Leases” chapter of the Florida Real Property Complex Transactions Manual for The Florida Bar and has updated it through four editions.
“Leases are more complicated than many people believe,” says Menor, who is partner in charge of Shutts & Bowen’s West Palm Beach office and chairman of its Real Estate Leasing Practice Group. “When you are negotiating a contract to buy or sell a building, there is a relatively short period between the contract and closing. However, leases typically last for many years. We have to forecast all the risks and challenges during that period from the client’s perspective and take steps to mitigate those risks.”
Drawing on his 34 years of experience in all aspects of real estate — including office building acquisitions and dispositions — Menor has been a national leader in developing strategies that use insurance products to manage and mitigate those risks. “Usually, it’s not in a client’s best interest to shift all the risk to the other party whether that’s the landlord or tenant, if that party isn’t financially able to stand behind those liabilities” he says. “So, we use insurance products to back up those risk allocations.”
Today, landlords and property owners across the country seek Menor’s advice in commercial leasing. As Angelo Bianco, a partner with Crocker Partners LLC, a real estate investment firm based in Boca Raton, says, “Art Menor has a deep knowledge of the law, and possesses a keen understanding of the business issues underlying the transaction, resulting in a solution-driven approach that adds value, protects our interests, and most importantly closes deals.”
Deep Roots in Palm Beach County
Menor’s parents, James and Mary Beth, met in Milwaukee, but in the late 1950s moved to Homestead where her father owned several rental houses. Menor was born in Homestead, but the family soon moved to Palm Beach County after his father went to work for and later bought the Lake Worth Monument Company, which is still in operation and managed by Menor’s brother Fred.
After graduating from Cardinal Newman High School, Menor earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida. “I went up there thinking about majoring in business,” he says. “But my advisor pointed out that my strengths were in reading and writing, so I began thinking about law. It turned out to be the perfect career choice for me.”
Menor stayed in Gainesville and earned his juris doctor in 1980. He also married, and he and his wife Suzanne now have two grown children. As a new lawyer, Menor joined Wien Lane & Malkin, a New York real estate firm with an office in Palm Beach. “Our founder Larry Wien invented real estate syndications in the late 1940s,” Menor says. “That opened a new stream of capital for real estate.”
Menor became a partner with the firm in 1986 and managed the office until 1993. “After Wien’s death, the firm started to change, and I felt there would be better opportunities with a Florida firm,” he says. Menor joined Shutts & Bowen, which had about 12 attorneys in its West Palm Beach office at the time. Today, there are 30 lawyers in the office.
During his 34-year career, Menor has handled virtually all aspects of real estate including litigation as well as transactions. He has also been deeply involved in the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar, currently serving as chairman of the Commercial Real Estate Committee, and previously chairing for many years the Landlord/Tenant Committee. He’s also chaired Bar seminars on topics like landlord and tenant law, “Eviction Nuts & Bolts,” and drafting commercial real estate contracts. Menor is also a fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, and organized the program for the organization’s annual meeting in Boston this fall.
For the past decade he has focused primarily on commercial leasing and acquisitions and dispositions of office buildings. “I like putting deals together, and I have built my reputation in those areas,” he says.
Asked about the current state of the West Palm Beach office market, Menor says almost all the available Class A space is now leased. However, it’s difficult to develop new buildings. “A developer needs substantial preleasing, and it’s hard to get those commitments several years in advance of a project’s completion,” he says. “Fortunately, the tight credit situation is starting to ease and that should help in the future.”
A Community Leader
Along with his leadership in real estate, Menor has been an active volunteer in Palm Beach County civic, charitable and business organizations for many years. Since 1996, he has been involved with United Way of Palm Beach County, serving as chairman for two years and receiving the Tocqueville Society Award for his contributions. “Art is a dedicated volunteer who has provided strategic direction to the organization on multiple issues,” says Laurie George, president and CEO. “His commitment to his community is clear in his ongoing support of United Way.”
A past president of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Palm Beach County, Menor also serves on the boards of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, and was the first chairman of the Housing Leadership Council, which honored him with its “Heroes of Housing’” award.
When the housing affordability problem was reaching crisis proportions in Palm Beach County in the mid 2000s, Menor chaired a workforce housing committee created by the Economic Council. That led to founding of the Housing Leadership Council in 2006 as a nonprofit dedicated to finding solutions. Since then, the council has leveraged more than $30 million in funding for affordable housing projects and contributed to comprehensive, meaningful policy changes, says Suzanne Cabrera, president and CEO. “Art was instrumental in establishing the organization and building a firm foundation to ensure the HLC would not only survive but thrive during the recession,” she says.
When not practicing law or volunteering his time, Menor enjoys running, golf and yoga. He also serves on the University of Florida Real Estate Advisory Board and speaks regularly to legal groups about real estate issues.
Reflecting on his career, Menor says, “I love the intellectual challenge of the law. As attorneys, we are constantly learning, rather than doing the same thing over and over again. It’s very satisfying to be able to find solutions for our clients and give back to our communities.”