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Winstead Expands Real Estate Development & Investments Practice Group


The law firm of Winstead PC in recent days announced the expansion of its real estate practice.

Two real estate development, entitlement-focused shareholders, one development planner, one development project manager, and their support team have joined the firm.

Stephen (Steve) O. Drenner will lead the group, and will be based in the firm’s Real Estate Development & Investments Practice Group in Austin and San Antonio.


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Drenner will be joined by his team of entitlement professionals, including John P. Donisi, shareholder; Michele Haussmann, director of planning and development; Amanda Swor, project manager; Ashley Parsons, project manager; and Heather Kuhn, legal secretary.

Drenner and his team were previously with Drenner & Golden, Stuart Wolff LLP, which is a boutique firm focusing on real estate with offices in Austin and San Antonio. The new group will serve clients in both Austin and San Antonio and the Central Texas region.

Pete Winstead, firm founder and shareholder in the Austin office was quoted as saying in a press release at the firm’s website: “This announcement represents a great moment for Winstead.

Peyton Smith, the firm’s lateral hiring shareholder was quoted as saying: “We have developed a ‘go to real estate practice’ in other Winstead offices and we wanted to enhance our real estate capabilities to serve clients in the rapidly growing Austin-San Antonio corridor. As a result of Steve’s group joining Winstead’s real estate practice, Winstead clients will benefit from the most reputable team of attorneys and professionals who handle entitlement issues in Central Texas.”

Known as the king of entitlements in and around the City of Austin, the City of San Antonio and other municipalities in Texas, Drenner has established a well respected and reputable entitlement team of former city planners who as a team assist real estate developers navigate regulatory hurdles.

Drenner has niche experience with municipal and county ordinances and state and federal laws affecting property rights. He has a proven track record of successful developer representation in all aspects of land use, zoning, variances, and entitlements. His clients include H.E.B., Endeavor Real Estate Group, Stratus Properties, Phoenix Properties, Simon Properties, American Campus Communities, and Cousins Properties.

Drenner’s entire career has focused on real estate. Over the last thirteen years, he has been a name partner in two of his own Austin firms. In addition, he was a former partner at Jenkens and Gilchrist for thirteen years, opening the firm’s Austin Office and serving as the Austin managing partner for three years.

He was also the founding president of the Real Estate Council of Austin, and he was named as one of the five top real estate lawyers in Texas by Texas Lawyer. In 2009, the Austin Business Journal awarded Drenner with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in real estate. He was the president of the Hill County Conservancy during 2007 and 2008, and he is a member of The Real Estate Council of Austin, the State Bar of Texas and the Austin Bar Association. Drenner received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.

Donisi’s practice focuses on entitlement work. He is a registered lobbyist with a well established reputation for success in local government and legislative lobby efforts for his clients. Prior to law school, Donisi was special assistant to Governor Ann Richards for four years and then chief of staff to The Honorable Senator Rodney G. Ellis for two years. Following law school, Donisi became general counsel to the Jurisprudence Committee of the Texas Senate and was a partner at Bickerstaff, Heath, Smiley, Pollan, Kever & McDaniel prior to becoming a partner at Drenner & Golden Stuart Wolff.

Donisi is a graduate of Leadership Austin, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, and the Austin Young Lawyers Association. Donisi has repeatedly been named a Texas Rising Star and a Texas Super Lawyer.

Haussmann joins Winstead as director of planning and development, land use and entitlements. She is a registered lobbyist with the City of Austin and City of San Antonio. She has worked in the zoning and planning area of real estate development her entire career, previously working with the City of Austin Development Review and Inspection Department, and the City of San Marcos Planning and Development Services Department, before working as the director of planning and development at her previous firm.

Winstead’s CEO and Chairman Kevin Sullivan was quoted as saying: “Overall, Winstead has assembled one of the strongest groups of real estate attorneys in Texas to address the needs of clients regionally as well as nationally. Drenner’s group, combined with Winstead’s long-standing expertise in real estate and related matters, will allow us to be the obvious go to firm for all aspects of complex real estate projects whether in Central Texas or elsewhere.”

Winstead is among the largest business law firms in Texas with offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and The Woodlands, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

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