Stephen H. Kaplan

Throughout his professional career, Steve Kaplan has participated in the negotiation of complicated public-private partnerships from several different perspectives: as a client, as counsel to a municipality, and as a representative of the United States government.  Steve specifically focuses on public-private partnerships in the redevelopment of publicly owned property and the structuring of such redevelopment projects involving public financing for infrastructure.  He also is actively working on major transit-oriented development projects and with airports interested in airport-related commercial development, both on- and off-airport.

Steve was the General Counsel of the United States Department of Transportation from 1993 through 1995, with responsibility for advising and representing the Department and its various agencies, including—among others—the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Highway Administration.

Steve also served for seven years as the City Attorney of Denver, Colorado.  He was actively involved in negotiations which led to the development of Denver International Airport, the Colorado Convention Center, and the governance structure and financing for Denver’s Major League Baseball stadium.

Representative Experience

Redevelopment of the Former Gates Rubber Company Site, Denver, Colorado
Representing master developer in environmental due diligence, negotiation of environmental insurance coverage, voluntary cleanup plans, professional service and construction contracting, and infrastructure funding agreements

Convention Center Hotel, Denver, Colorado
Represented Denver Convention Center Hotel Authority to finance, build, and operate the 1,100 room Hyatt Convention Center Hotel

Central I-70 / Colorado Department of Transportation, Denver, Colorado
Representing Colorado Department of Transportation in the procurement of an availability payment P3 project for the Central 70 project

Regional Transportation District (RTD), Denver, Colorado
Represented RTD in structuring, negotiating, and implementing a $2 billion public-private partnership for two corridors of FasTracks—a light rail and commuter rail program (the first public-private transit/rail program successfully undertaken in the United States); part of legal team representing RTD on the EAGLE P3 project for the East Corridor commuter rail line to DIA, the Gold Line, and the Maintenance Facility; negotiated with two railroads for the acquisition of corridor right-of-way

Airport, Transit, Highway Projects
Served as strategic advisor and counsel to several private and public entities on transportation and infrastructure projects including transit-oriented developments and highway matters; representing airports on matters ranging from airport revenue diversion and privatization issues to P3 terminal projects and commercial development both on and off-airport

Professional and Civic Activities / Awards

  • Best Lawyers® Land Use & Zoning "Lawyer of the Year" award for Denver (2017, 2019, 2021, 2024)
  • Best Lawyers in America® for Land Use & Zoning Law; Real Estate Law (2007–2014, 2017–2024)
  • Board of Directors and former President, Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation
  • Chambers USA, Colorado, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use – Band 1 (2005–Present)
  • Member, Transportation and Mobility Committee - Denver GO Bonds (2017)
  • 5280's Top Lawyer for Government Relations/Contracts/Lobbying Law (2015–2017, 2019)
  • Super Lawyers® for Land Use/Zoning Law; Real Estate Law; Transportation/Maritime Law (2006–2019)
  • Co-Chair, Denver Zoning Code Task Force (2006–2011)
  • Denver Public Schools Citizens’ Bond Committee (2003)
  • Vice Chair, National Civil Aviation Review Commission (Mineta Commission) (1997)
  • Airports Council International Award for Outstanding Leadership (1996)
  • FAA Award for Extraordinary Achievement (1995)
  • Board Member, Conservation Colorado
  • Board of Directors, Children’s Museum
  • Board Member, Denver Zoo
  • Denver Union Station Project Authority Board
  • Member, Mayor's Development Advisory Group
  • Former Member, SafeHouse Denver

News & Publications


36th Annual Aiport Law Workshop
30th Annual AAAE Basics of Airport Law Workshop and 2014 Legal Update
21st Annual AAAE Basics of Airport Law Workshop and 2005 Legal Update
Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Conference
Real Estate Development CLE Conference
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J.D., Harvard Law School, 1973
A.B., cum laude, Harvard College, 1969

Bar Admissions



P3 Airport Projects: An Introduction for Airport Lawyers (Second Edition)

P3 Airport Projects: An Introduction for Airport Lawyers