MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event – Opportunity Zones: What you Need to Know to Take Advantage of this Opportunity in Real Estate and Beyond

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created a bi-partisan tax incentive program based on economically distressed Opportunity Zones. Investors in Qualified Opportunity Zone businesses now

have the ability to defer, and to some extent eliminate, recent capital gain income, by properly investing their gain proceeds. Gov. LePage has designated 32 Opportunity Zones in Maine ranging from Saco to Madawaska, including parts of Downtown Portland, which opens the door for real estate developers pursuing projects in these designated areas to tap into a whole new group of tax savvy investors.

Join the Maine Real Estate & Development Association for breakfast on November 21 from 7:30 AM – 9 AM at the Pepperell Mill Campus in Biddeford to learn more about these complicated new rules. Panelists Andy Smith and Nelson Toner will offer insights about how the legislation will impact the real estate industry and the tax advantages available to investors in Opportunity Zone projects.

About the Event:

MEREDA’s Morning Menu – Opportunity Zones: What you Need to Know about This Opportunity in Real Estate and Beyond

Pepperell Mill Campus
40 Main Street
Biddeford, ME

Breakfast: 7:30 – 8:00 AM
Program: 8:00 – 9:00 AM

About the Panelists:

For more than 30 years, Nelson Toner has practiced law at Bernstein Shur providing tax planning, estate planning and business succession planning to individual and business clients. Prior to working at Bernstein Shur, Nelson worked in the tax department at the Boston office of Grant Thornton, an international accounting firm during the halcyon days of pre-1986 real estate syndications. Nelson gives many local and state seminars, including a regular presentation at the Maine Tax Forum each autumn, and for many years taught Estate and Gift Tax at the Maine Law School. He also writes the S Corporation column for the Journal of Passthrough Entities, a national tax publication.

Nelson earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Trinity College (Hartford), a JD degree from Case Western Reserve University, and an LLC in taxation from Boston University

Andrew Smith is a principal at Baker Newman Noyes, specializing in assisting his clients with practical advice and creative solutions to their most challenging business issues, including tax efficient structures for business transactions; fixed asset analysis; succession planning; and tax deferral and reduction strategies. He also works with real estate clients of all sizes on cost segregation studies, like-kind exchanges, and historic rehabilitation credits. In addition to serving clients, Andy is also actively involved in the firm’s college recruiting initiatives, having begun his career at the firm in 1997 as an intern and leads the tax department’s Multi-Generational
Business group.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with concentrations in accounting and finance, from the University of Maine, Orono.

Registering for this Event:

MEREDA Members: $45 each | Non-Members: $55 Each
Prices Increase by $10 after November 14

Your RSVP is requested by November 14. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers but fails to attend or who cancels after November 14.

For more information and to register, visit

MEREDA’s Morning Menu is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank and Pepperell Mill Campus. 

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Resolution of Disputes: The Pros and Cons of Arbitration and Litigation

By:  Richard Gagliuso, Shareholder, Bernstein Shur 

Disputes are a common, if not inevitable, byproduct of construction projects. Most commercial construction contracts anticipate that disputes may arise by providing a mechanism for resolving them. There is great variety in these “dispute resolution provisions,” but they typically provide for litigation or arbitration, with or without mediation as another step in the process.

To define these terms, “litigation” refers to the process of resolving disputes in court. Contract provisions calling for litigation of disputes may also dictate the jurisdiction or forum where such litigation is to occur. These terms are generally enforceable, and they have a significant impact on the expense and the outcome of litigation. Such provisions may also include “choice of law” terms which dictate the state or jurisdiction – often the state where the project is located – whose law will apply to the contract and to any dispute arising out of it.

“Arbitration” is an alternative to litigation which bypasses the court system in favor of a process where a private, independent arbitrator, rather than a judge or jury, is the decision-maker. This process may but need not be administered or managed by an organization such as the American Arbitration Association. As in the case of litigation, arbitration provisions may contain forum selection clauses and/or choice of law terms.

“Mediation” is not an alternative to litigation or arbitration, but rather an adjunct to one of these processes which involves a third party acting as an intermediary and facilitating settlement discussions between the parties to the dispute. Dispute resolution provisions often provide for mediation followed, if mediation is unsuccessful, by either litigation or arbitration.

Participants in construction projects often find themselves faced with a choice of dispute resolution mechanisms as they draft contract documents or review those prepared by others. These provisions tend to be overlooked by contractors and other parties more concerned with the business terms of the deal, but failing to focus on them, understand them and consider them carefully is a mistake.

Mediation should be a part of most dispute resolution provisions. It offers the prospect of an early resolution of disputes before much of the expense of either litigation or arbitration is incurred. I recommend the inclusion of mediation provisions in nearly all of the construction contracts that I draft or review.

The choice between litigation and arbitration, however, is more interesting, as each of these processes has its advantages and disadvantages.

The principal advantages of litigation are that, (i) it is a structured process governed by strict rules, (ii) it offers a full range of remedies, including not only an award of damages but injunctive relief, (iii) it is presided over by a judge paid by the taxpayers, (iv) it may offer the alternative of a jury trial, (v) it gives the parties rights of appeal, and (vi) it leads to a final court judgment. These are not insignificant considerations and contracting parties must weigh their importance in each case.

These advantages come with other features, however, that may be less attractive. The judge hearing the case in court is likely to be a generalist without any particular expertise or experience in construction. Arbitrators, by contrast, are generally chosen for their expertise in this area, which means that the decision-maker in arbitration is likely to have seen these issues before. On the other hand, unlike the judge who is compensated out of public funds, the arbitrator is paid by the parties, who often split the arbitrator’s fees in the first instance. In large construction disputes, these fees are often substantial and may make arbitration a less attractive option.

It is also important to understand that litigation is a public process, with court filings and hearings open to the public. Depending on the nature of the disputes and the evidence likely to be presented, this may be an important downside to litigation, as opposed to the private and confidential nature of arbitration.

Depending on the jurisdiction, litigation may be a prolonged and inefficient process, which inevitably leads to greater expense. Arbitration, by contrast, is designed to be more streamlined and efficient, often leading to an earlier resolution than litigation would offer. But of course, this efficiency comes with a cost in terms of less of an opportunity for discovery and foregoing some of the rights (e.g., a jury trial) and remedies (e.g., injunctive relief) available in court. In arbitration, rights of appeal typically are extremely limited, and a final arbitration award does not result immediately in a final court judgment. In other words, a quicker resolution is not always a better or fairer one.

These pros and cons, among others, must be weighed in considering what dispute resolution mechanism is best suited for a particular project or a particular party. There is no single right answer, which means that the right answer “depends.” Fortunately, experienced construction counsel are well versed in these issues and situated to help contractors, owners and other project participants make the right choice for them. 

Originally posted on June 7, 2019

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event “Developing in Maine for Nearly Two Centuries”

J.B.Brown & Sons was founded in 1828 and is one of the oldest and largest property owners in the greater Portland area. Join us for a MEREDA breakfast whereby our state historian, Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. shares how the company was founded and the impact this person and the company has had on Maine.  The talk will focus on the past as well as the future.  The president of J.B. Brown & Sons – Vin Veroneau will talk about the current breadth and expanse of the company, as well as showcase some of the current projects in the works.

Make plans to join MEREDA on Nov. 14, 2019 from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM at the Clarion Hotel in Portland to learn about one of the oldest and largest property owners in the greater Portland area, J.B. Brown & Sons. Join us for breakfast, network with your colleagues and enjoy learning about this very interesting company and it’s impact on the built environment. 

About the Event:

MEREDA’s Morning Menu – Developing in Maine for Nearly Two Centuries
November 14, 2019 – 7:30 – 9:00 AM

Clarion Hotel
1230 Congress Street
Portland, ME

Breakfast: 7:30 – 8:00 AM
Program: 8:00 – 9:00 AM

About the Panelists:

A native of Portland, Maine, Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. attended Deering High School, Colby College, and Boston University and was the recipient of honorary doctorates from Bowdoin College and the Maine College of Art. At the age of thirteen, Shettleworth became interested in historic preservation through the destruction of Portland’s Union Station in 1961. In 1971 he was appointed by Governor Curtis to serve on the first board of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, for which he became architectural historian in 1973 and director in 1976. He retired from that position in 2015. Mr. Shettleworth has lectured and written extensively on Maine history and architecture and has served as State Historian since 2004.

Vin Veroneau joined J.B. Brown as President in January 2005. He has been involved in commercial real estate development, asset management, and marketing since 1987. Prior to his association with the Company, he was a partner at North Atlantic Commercial Brokers in Portland, Maine, and a commercial leasing manager with Northland Development Corporation. He holds a B.S. in Finance from the University of San Francisco, an M.B.A from the University of Southern Maine, and a J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has taken several real estate courses in the Community Planning & Development graduate program at the Muskie School of Public Policy. He currently serves as a Director of both Bangor Savings Bank and DBH Management, Inc. and is a Trustee of Waynflete School.

Registering for this Event:

MEREDA Members: $45 each | Non-Members: $55 Each
Prices Increase by $10 after November 7

Your RSVP is requested by November 7. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers but fails to attend or who cancels after November 7. 

For more information and to register, visit

MEREDA’s Morning Menu is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank and CHA Architecture.

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event: Solar Power in Maine: What you need to know about investing in solar in Maine

In 2019, the Maine Legislature passed LD 91 which reset the state’s metering policy for solar and ensures that consumers who produce electricity from solar panels are fairly compensated for supplying excess energy back to the electric grid. Come learn more about solar, from design to financing to tax credits.

Make plans to join the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) for breakfast on October 29 from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM at the Hollywood Casino & Hotel in Bangor.

About the Event:

MEREDA’s Morning Menu – Solar in Maine: What you need to know about investing in solar in Maine

October 29, 2019 – 7:30 – 9:00 AM

Hollywood Casino Bangor
500 Main Street
Bangor, ME

Breakfast: 7:30 – 8:00 AM
Program: 8:00 – 9:00 AM

About the Panelists:

Jeffrey J Eades, National Sales Director at KEF Clean Energy (K4G) since June of 2015, is responsible for the development and delivery of Key Equipment Finance and Key Bank’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable financing offerings throughout the corporate footprint. His role includes the management of sales team members located in the Eastern, Midwestern and West Coast Regions.

Justin Morren is a Manager in BerryDunn’s Tax Consulting and Compliance Group. Justin is a seasoned advisor on tax treatments for pass-through entities, and brings a deep understanding of partnership and limited liability company taxation, including contributed property concerns and complex tax allocations. Justin provides planning, compliance, and consulting services to privately held entities in the professional services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, real estate, and forest products industries. In this role, he has advised business owners on the tax benefits of renewable energy ITC tax credits. This experience includes tax planning using multiple year income tax projections for after-tax cash flow purposes and tax return compliance.

Vaughan Woodruff, is the CEO and founder of Insource Renewables, a solar contracting firm headquartered in Pittsfield, Maine. Insource Renewables is one of only ten solar installation companies in North America to achieve accreditation and was recognized in 2019 as a “Best For the World” company based on ranking in the top 10% of Certified B Corps around the globe in its treatment of workers. In addition to leading Insource’s efforts over the past decade, Woodruff is the former chair of Maine’s solar industry trade group and is a recognized as a leading voice for the solar industry at the Maine legislature and Public Utilities Commission.

Registering for this Event:

MEREDA Members: $25 each | Non-Members: $35 Each
Prices Increase by $10 after October 22

Your RSVP is requested by October 22. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers but fails to attend or who cancels after October 22. 

For more information and to register, visit

MEREDA’s Morning Menu is Sponsored by the City of Bangor, Bowman Constructors and KeyBank. 


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Understanding Commercial Fire Damage and the Restoration Process

By:  Holly Merrill & Barbara Rapoza, SERVPRO of Maine

Most property owners know that the worst thing which can happen to them is fire damage. What many do not know is the fact that the toughest part of dealing with commercial fire damage comes in after the fire trucks and the firefighters have left, and one has to assess and mitigate the damages they have suffered. Below are a few of the things you need to understand about fire damage and the fire restoration process.

The fire suppression: As a property owner, there are measures you are supposed to put in place to alert people in case there is an electrical fire or any other fire. These include smoke and electrical fire alarms. Mechanisms such as fire exits and fire extinguishers should also be in place to minimize loss of lives and property in case of a fire. When an electrical fire does break out, the first step should be getting everyone out of the building to a safe place and calling 911.

The fire restoration after fire suppression: You will only be allowed to access a building affected by fire damage after the firefighters have removed their fire equipment and declared it safe for re-entry. In case the fire was so extensive and destroyed structures such as the roof and parts of the drywall, board up, and roof tarp will be done to hold the structure upright and protect the structure from vandalism. Note that the use of powerful fire sprinkler systems and fire hoses can also weaken the internal structure of the house. The following are some of the steps followed during fire suppression and utility room fire damage restoration.

• Fire cleanup: Fire damage leaves behind problems such as smoke damage, soot damage and lots of charred debris. If the fire were extinguished using the water fire sprinkler system, or the fire hose the restoration experts would have to start by removing the water and drying up the rooms before proceeding.

• Soot damage and smoke damage removal: smoke will adhere to upholstery, furniture, and other appliances after a fire. It is the responsibility of the restoration company to use the appropriate detergents and cleaning agents to make sure that any smoke damage and soot damage on the floors, walls or appliances has been completely removed.

• Fire restoration: This part of the process aims to make sure the house goes back to the state it was in before the commercial fire damage. To make this happen, the commercial fire damage restoration experts assess the damage caused by the fire after the cleanup and give a quotation of what is needed to be done, and the cost. They will repair any drywall which has fallen apart, replace parts of the roof that could have gotten burnt in the fire, and repaint the areas inside the home that could have stains from smoke damage and soot damage.

The quality of the commercial fire damage restoration depends on the competence of the company which you hire to handle the fire restoration for you. It is best to take time, look at the offers on the table from different companies and select the one which best suits your needs.

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Nominations Now Being Accepted for MEREDA’s 2019 Notable Project Awards

Each year, MEREDA identifies and recognizes the most noteworthy and significant Maine commercial development projects from the previous year, all of which embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible development.

Nominations are now being accepted for MEREDA’s Notable Project Awards.  The recipients will be recognized at MEREDA’s 35th Anniversary Celebration being held on March 26, 2020.

In order to be considered, all projects must be submitted via the Notable Projects Application Form, which can be downloaded here. (Clicking this link will download a Word Document to your computer.)

Nominations are due October 15, 2019.  Please submit completed forms to Shelly Clark at

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MEREDA’s Annual Fall Networking Social

Another great “meet-and-greet” opportunity, this time on Portland’s Waterfront, you are invited to the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA’s) highly-anticipated Annual Fall Social on October 17th!

MEREDA’s networking events attract key players in Maine’s real estate industry and provide our members with excellent opportunities to interact with the experts.

Join us on Portland’s waterfront for hors d’oeuvres, spirits, and great conversation with colleagues, friends and other industry professionals for our Annual Networking Fall Social on October 17 from 5:00 – 7:00 PM.

Join us for a cocktail or two, and reconnect with colleagues and friends, both old and new!

Before the official “networking” gets underway, MEREDA will hold its Annual Meeting of the Members beginning at 4:45 PM – Members Only

About the Event:

October 17, 2019 – 5:00PM to 7:00PM

Hilton Garden Inn, Portland Downtown Waterfront
65 Commercial Street
Portland, ME

Registering for this Event:

MEREDA Members: $45 each | Non-Members: $60 Each
Prices Increase by $10 after October 10

Your RSVP is requested by October 10. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers but fails to attend or who cancels after October 10. 

For more information and to register, visit 

MEREDA’s 2019 Annual Fall Networking Social is sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank, J.B. Brown & Sons and Preti Flaherty. 

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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Topsham Care Center

In multi-part series, exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation.  MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation. 

Please join with us in celebrating the Topsham Care Center.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Topsham Care Center:  This was a strip mall building, complete with false gables, patchwork siding, minimal structure, multiple levels and entries, and a big blue “Best Buy” wedge on the façade. The site offered potential for expansion, however, and the location was right for the tenants. 8 separate medical practices, at final count, merged under one administer. They needed to have a single identity, a single main entrance, and an image that implied “professional healthcare” instead of “big box building”.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?

Topsham Care Center:  This project was a collaboration of New England Cancer Specialists, Central Maine Health Care and Shields Imaging.   The goal was to create a state-of-the-art Healthcare facility that provided easy access to their patients.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process. How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Topsham Care Center:  The planning process for this project was quite condensed.  We spent about 4 months in the initial planning process prior to construction start.  That being said, during the entire build we were still designing different aspects of the project.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed?

Topsham Care Center:  The most challenging aspect of this project was our time constraints.  One of the lead tenants had a firm date that they needed to move out of their existing space and into the new space.  Being a healthcare provider, they simply could not shut down operations and wait for the new space to be completed.  To add to the pressure, one of the existing tenants of the complex that was scheduled to move out to allow for the redevelopment prolonged their occupancy.   The result of this meant our start date was pushed back by 3 months however our end date stayed the same.  What should have been a 10-month construction project required us to complete in 7 months.  

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable?

Topsham Care Center:  One of the highlights of this project was the development of the large atrium and meeting area within the building.  At the main entrance to the building you walk into a 2-story space with large skylights in the ceiling, comfortable seating and art work on the walls.  This is a great space where you can then navigate to the multiple different practices with the facility.


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Will homebuilding finally evolve? Lessons from the American experience with factory-built housing

MEREDA’s Spring Conference in May included a keynote presentation by Dr. Lynn Fisher of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Dr. Fisher provided both national and state economic data, painting a bigger picture of the housing situation.  We thought this article that she contributed to might be of interest to our members.

by Lynn Fisher and Scott Ganz, American Enterprise Institute


In this report, we examine the history of attempts to disrupt site-built single-family housing in the US to learn about the potential for the homebuilding industry to increase housing affordability through innovation. We argue that greater reliance on mass production is unlikely to be a source of significant cost savings for the kinds of homes that most Americans live in today. We highlight the potential for factory-built housing to provide more significant cost savings if smaller-size and reasonable but lower-quality construction is permitted, as is the case with manufactured housing. While the entire home is rarely prefabricated in the US, we do find an increased reliance on prefabricated components in site-built housing over time, resulting in some cost savings and increases in construction quality. Finally, we argue that the history of homebuilding demonstrates that rapid adoption of prefabrication or more efficient production processes by homebuilders are more likely to be driven by market competition than by economies of scale within consolidated firms or by government intervention.

Read More >>>

Reprinted with permission from the American Enterprise Institute.  Originally posted on April 22, 2019


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DevelopME Lunch & Learn Seminar “Real Estate and Financing Issues in Maine’s Cannabis Marketplace”

DevelopME is pleased to present “Real Estate and Financing Issues in Maine’s Cannabis Marketplace” at the Portland Public Library’s Rines Auditorium on September 18, 2019 from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Come hear from industry members and stakeholders on the current climate for conducting business with cannabis companies here in Maine with a focus on land use regulations, municipal relations, and banking & financing hurdles. We will be joined by Josh Quint, Director of Operations for Canuvo, one of the state’s 8 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, Garrett Corbin, a legislative advocate for the Maine Municipal Association, and Gene Ardito, President and CEO of cPort Credit Union.

About the Event:

September 18, 2019 – 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Portland Public Library
5 Monument Square
Portland, ME

Lunch: 11:30 – 12:00 p.m.
Program: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

About the Presenters:

Joshua Quint is Director of Operations for Canuvo, one of four vertically integrated Medical Marijuana Dispensaries licensed by the State of Maine.  Josh has helped lead Canuvo to the forefront of the cannabis market in Maine.  In this position for the past 6 years, Josh interacts with all aspects of the cannabis industry, from cultivation facility design to product development to public policy.  Josh has worked with regulators and legislators at the municipal, state and federal level to improve state-run marijuana programs and ensure public health and safety standards for businesses operating in the cannabis market.  Josh was born and raised in Minot, Maine and now resides in Bridgton.

Garrett Corbin began working as a Legislative Advocate for the Maine Municipal Association in April 2013. Garrett received his BA degree from Boston University, his Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Maine School of Law, and his MA from the Muskie School. Before coming to MMA, Garrett worked in a number of capacities with and for the Maine Legislature. Garrett’s advocacy is focused in the areas of energy, marijuana legalization, intergovernmental relations and judiciary.

Gene Ardito has held the role of President and CEO of cPort Credit Union since 2004. With assets of over $230 million, cPort Credit Union employs 81 staff and serves over 24,000 members with four locations in Portland, Augusta and Scarborough. cPort was founded in 1931 as the Government Employees Credit Union of Maine, serving primarily federal employees including postal workers and military personnel. In 2005, Ardito led the expansion of the credit union’s charter to serve Maine’s five most populous counties and rebranded GECUME to cPort Credit Union. In 2018, cPort Credit Union opened its third Portland branch at 35 Middle Street in the Old Port.

Ardito is a graduate of Providence College.  He spent the first ten years of his career working in corporate finance positions at Central Maine Power during a time of incredible regulatory and economic change and under the leadership of thought leaders such as John Rowe and David Flanagan.  Ardito then spent ten years working in corporate finance positions at UNUM raising capital and managing world-wide banking relationships through strong organic and merger related growth.  Following UNUM, Ardito became a Senior Relationship Manager within Fleet Bank’s Corporate Banking Group and successfully grew relationships with large insurance companies throughout the United States including Prudential, Pacific Life, AIG, Guardian Life and Allstate. A Portland resident, Gene has served on the boards of the UNUM Foundation, Diocese of Portland, and Community Financial Literacy.

Registering for this Event:

Your RSVP is requested by September 11, 2019. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after September 11, 2019.

Ticket Prices:

Members: $15 each | Non-Members: $25 each
Prices increase by $10 after September 11, 2019

To register, please visit

This DevelopME Lunch & Learn Seminar is sponsored by cPort Credit Union. 

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