Joshua Lee Smith is a land use and real estate lawyer focusing on complex commercial real estate matters involving permitting, acquisitions, leasing, environmental compliance and financing. His clients primarily consist of developers, public and private corporations, public utility companies, colleges and universities and lending institutions.  He works on a variety of matters involving urban and suburban developments and retail, office, public utility, industrial, education and hotel projects.

Josh works closely with public utility companies on projects involving the siting, development and permitting of bulk power substations, gas turbine generator facilities, high-voltage transmission lines, solar photovoltaic generation systems and operations and equipment management facilities. He serves as an expert zoning witness in hearings before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

Clients turn to Josh to navigate challenging legal, business and political issues.


Josh is a 2011 recipient of the “40 Under Forty” Award by the Worcester Business Journal.

Besides work

Josh is active in his church and coaches his son’s Little League baseball team.


  • Ambassador, Westborough Economic Development Committee
  • Finance Committee Member, Worcester Art Museum
  • Corporator, Greater Worcester Community Foundation
  • Board Member, Board of Directors of Music Worcester, Inc.
  • Board Member, Board of Directors of Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Executive Committee Member, Babson College Real Estate Career Affinity Network
  • Member, Asian-American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts
  • Member, Massachusetts Bar Association

Articles + Talks

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts


  • J.D., magna cum laude, Syracuse University College of Law
  • B.S., summa cum laude, Babson College

Helping obtain a permit for a public utility

A public utility wanted to install a gas-insulated substation, a large, enclosed building within sight of abutting property owners. In the course of the permitting process, Josh appeared at a series of public hearings, often in the media spotlight. According to Josh, “I explained that the improvements would increase power-generating capacity, distribution and reliability for the town.” The client agreed to mitigation, including lighting, plant screening, changes to the layout and other creative solutions.

A complicated acquisition

In a highly-publicized case, Josh helped an educational client purchase the final parcels of a multi-phased, 10-year acquisition. As Josh described it, “this involved a former hospital site encompassing numerous real estate, demolition, environmental, zoning and leasing issues.”

Other experience

Permitting and zoning

  • Permitting for highly-publicized 46,000 square foot renovation and 139,000 square foot expansion of a collegiate athletic complex
  • Permitting for a rising fast food chain
  • Permitting for various public utility infrastructure and improvement projects throughout the Commonwealth, including projects involving two high-profile casino developments
  • Serving as expert zoning witness for Department of Public Utility hearings for high-profile, interstate transmission line project

Purchase, sales, leasing and licensing

  • Highly-publicized purchase and ground leasing of property and permitting for development of 36,000 square foot academic center
  • Purchase, leasing and development of numerous gasoline station and convenience store sites throughout the Commonwealth for publicly-traded and private operators
  • Negotiation of a highly-publicized license for semi-pro hockey team
  • Purchase and financing of multi-tenant shopping centers
  • Purchase and development of highly publicized 35,000 square foot retreat center
  • Purchase of former hospital site in multi-phased, 10-year acquisition involving numerous real estate, environmental, zoning and leasing issues

Financing and development

  • Financing of highly-publicized, $33 million, 168-room hotel development
  • Historic rehabilitation of a 135,000 square foot former newspaper building complex involving New Markets and historic tax credits
  • Financing of highly-publicized $18 million hockey rink facility and mixed use development
  • Leasing and development of large-scale solar photovoltaic generation facilities in various communities, including consultation of one of the largest multi-community solar build outs in the state’s history, with over 50,000 solar panels
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