MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event: Transforming the Retail Experience

Rock Row is a transformative 110 acre mixed-use development thoughtfully designed to complement state-of-the-art architecture with the site’s unique natural features. Through careful planning, Rock Row in Westbrook, Maine combines healthy urban living, destination retail, modern workplaces, select and full service hotels, diverse entertainment, and chef-inspired dining in a fun, convenient and immersive experience.

Mark your calendar to join us for breakfast on March 12 from 7:30 AM – 9:30 AM at the Holiday Inn By the Bay to discover how the transformation of the retail experience is taking shape in Maine.

About the Event:

March 12, 2019 – 7:30AM to 9:30AM

Holiday Inn by the Bay
88 Spring Street
Portland, ME 04101

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

About the Panel:

Josh Levy, Waterstone’s co-founding Principal, is actively involved in all facets of the company including site acquisition, permitting, and development, with a primary focus on Leasing for Waterstone’s 50+ shopping center portfolio and developing strategic leasing/development initiatives.

Before starting Waterstone, Josh served as Chief Operating Officer of a privately held real estate investment company and was responsible for company operations and its Massachusetts portfolio. A graduate of Boston College, Josh holds a Bachelor of Science degree and has pursued continued real estate education through MIT, Boston University, ICSC and CCIM. He has been a guest lecturer at both Harvard University and Boston College, and is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, NH ICSC Next Generation Committee, Young President’s Organization, and Boston College TREK.  Josh is actively involved with the Dakshana Foundation in India and other local Boston organizations.

Trip Schneck is an industry-leading expert in specialty food, beverage (F&B) and entertainment procurement. Prior to the acquisition by Cushman & Wakefield, Trip, and his partner, Phil Colicchio, founded Colicchio Consulting where their work has given them a proven track record in the F&B industry in identifying, evaluating, conceiving, selecting, and contracting with food and beverage providers for food halls, hotels and shopping centers among other concepts. Since 2015, they have been at the forefront of “The Food Hall Movement”‘, advising property owners and universities on the critical need for intelligently programming communal spaces to include authentic food and beverage offerings, markets, beer gardens, rooftop experiences and thoughtfully curated Food Halls. In 2017, they expanded to include the development of live performance.

Registering for this Event:

MEREDA Member: $45 each  | Non – Member: $55 each
Register After March 5:  Member: $55 each  |  Non-Member $65 each

Your RSVP is requested by March 5, 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 March 5, 2019.

This MEREDA Morning Menu Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank and Waterstone Properties.

Visit  for more information and to register.

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The times they are a changin’

by Justin Lamontagne, CCIM, SIOR, Partner, Broker at NAI The Dunham Group

My mind wandered recently while on a long solo drive, as it often does. I had the music cranking and, in typical Maine fashion, cell phone coverage was spotty. It was nice to effortlessly jump from thoughts of the holiday season with my young kids… to my (gulp) 20-year high school reunion and old friends… to the prospects of another long playoff run by my beloved Patriots. But as I passed commercial buildings and warehouses, my attention drifted to the bricks and mortar of the Greater Portland industrial market.

And sure enough, some classics from the past lined up nicely with my thoughts on the near future of our market:

The times they are a changin’ – Bob Dylan said it simply. And the statistics in our market suggest the same. The nearly 8-year run of a clear Landlord’s market has finally shown indicators (albeit slight) that the pendulum is swinging the other way.  This year’s overall vacancy rate of 3.47 percent is significant increase from our historically low 2017 rate of 1.25%.

Of course, a 3.47% rate is still what I would call a “Landlord’s market”. However, what concerns me is that our added industrial units are highly comparable spaces and competing with one another. Since early Spring we have seen several 10-20k SF Class-A/B industrial spaces come on the market and linger. In years past, we’d often have prospects on the sideline ready to pounce. In 2018, these spaces sat (and are sitting) vacant for months at a time. The challenge is lack of tenants. In Maine, we simply have a limited number of industrial style businesses to put into spaces that size. And when 5-6 of the same quality and size come on-line at roughly the same time, all of a sudden the 1-2 larger tenants in the market carry leverage they haven’t had in years.

In the air tonight – Phil Collins sensed something was amiss. And so did we in the industrial market. The phones slowed down mid-year. Quality inventory that we turned over with such regularity, started to sit. What was wrong? We began to hypothesize and then confirm through conversations with our Tenant clients. There were some big-picture concerns happening.

The macroeconomic pressures we have been tracking, primarily inflation and lack of labor force, finally became material reasons not to expand or relocate. Tenant’s began to tell us that they couldn’t hire enough people to support the workload that would come with additional square footage. Additionally, the cost of virtually everything rose. From taxes, to gas, to electricity, to raw materials, to a loaf of bread… everything got more expensive in 2018. Which indirectly squeezed real estate budgets.

Hold on… this classic Wilson Philips song (of course belted at the top of your lungs – admit it) raises a good question. Will the interest and activity we’ve seen in industrial new-construction “hold-on”? I am not entirely sure. The existing lease inventory we’ve added is renting well under new construction rates. And the cost of construction continues to skyrocket. Add to that, a lack of quality industrial land, a rising interest rate environment and unsteady economic trends, and my unfortunate prediction is that, yes, the new construction window of opportunity will close in 2019. Farewell, we hardly knew thee…

For the Love of Money – President Trump’s favorite tune is best known for the simple yet powerful chorus, “Money, money, money, moooonnnneey…. Money!” So how did we close any deals this year, with all the challenges referenced above? Sales prices continued to climb as we have a dramatic lack of purchase opportunities. Rising interest rates did not temper owner/user interest in acquiring industrial real estate. However, as sales prices climbed (cresting $100/sf for Class-A owner/user space) our sales volume was down. This was largely due to lack of motivated sellers.

And leasing demand didn’t just drop off a cliff. We have had steady interest in smaller units, under 10,000 SF. And there are currently a handful of large end-users touring the market in the 50k+ range. Interestingly, the most consistent demand is coming from traditional industrial businesses. Until recently, these companies have been begrudgingly on the sidelines, often losing out to start-up and well-funded industries like craft brewing and the marijuana cultivation trade.

Much like my long-drive, the industrial market has been a nice ride. But there are clearly bumps in the road forthcoming. For the first time in over eight years, the data suggests a softening market. Tenants finally have some leverage and can expect more incentives and better overall deals. And Landlords? Well, they may be singing a different tune. Regardless, it should make for a rocking 2019.

Click to view NAI The Dunham Group’s 2019 Greater Portland Industrial Market Survey

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DevelopME “Lunch & Learn” Seminar – Building a Career In Real Estate

Join DevelopME on Thursday March 7, 2019 at the Portland Public Library from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. for their latest Lunch and Learn event, “Building a Career In Real Estate” to hear three industry veterans answer questions about how they navigated their careers in the pine tree state.

Josh Fifield of Clark Insurance will moderate the discussion and we will hear from Kim Twitchell, Maine Regional President at NBT Bank along with  Roxane Cole, Managing Member and Commercial Broker at Roxane Cole Commercial Real Estate, and Erin Cooperrider, Partner at the New Height Group and Development Strategist at Community Housing of Maine.

About the Event:

March 7, 2019 – 11:30AM to 1:00PM

Portland Public Library
Rines Auditorium
5 Monument Square
Portland, ME 04101

Lunch: 11:30 AM Program: 12:00 – 1:00 PM

About the Panel:

Josh Fifield is currently a Senior Account Executive at Clark Insurance, a 100% Employee Owned Company headquartered in Portland ME, where he partners with businesses to offer customized commercial insurance solutions. Josh draws from over 15-years of experience in the insurance industry, having worked on both the agency side and carrier side as an underwriter at MEMIC. Josh serves as a director on MEREDA’s Board and co-chairs MEREDA’s Marketing & Membership committee. As a community leader, Josh serves as a director on the Maine Real Estate Development Association (MEREDA) Board and co-chairs MEREDA’s Marketing & Membership committee. He is also a board member for Portland Little League and Vice Chair for Town & Country Federal Credit Union.

Roxane Cole is an entrepreneur.  After graduating from the University of Maine at Orono she taught school briefly but found her strong interest was entrepreneurial ventures. At age twenty-five she founded and co-owned a chain of retail stores and a mail order business which she sold before entering the field of commercial real estate. In February 2010, after decades as a commercial broker, she founded the firm Roxane Cole Commercial Real Estate.  With her 30 years of experience as a commercial broker, Roxane has made an indelible impact on Maine’s real estate industry and MEREDA.  Roxane has been an active member of MEREDA’s Board of Directors since 2003, having served as president from 2006-2008 and recently received MEREDA’s 2018 President’s Award.

Erin Cooperrider is a partner at NewHeight Group, a Portland-based development firm and Development Strategist for Community Housing of Maine, a 25-year old non-profit affordable housing developer also based in Portland. In her work with NewHeight Group, Erin manages permitting, financing, and the construction process. During her tenure at CHOM, Erin helped to grow the organization’s asset base from $7 to more than $60 million. Before joining CHOM in 2002, Erin worked in commercial real estate development in Maine, and asset management and real estate development consulting outside of Maine. Erin was a co-founder of The Signal Group, a 23-year old real estate services company based in Portland, Maine. She serves on the Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Erin received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her graduate degree from Stanford University.

Kim Twitchell, Maine Regional President at NBT Bank has approximately 30 years of experience in commercial banking in Maine, with the last 20 focused primarily in commercial real estate.  Kim started her career as a commercial analyst with Fleet National Bank in 1989 and spent 17 years with Fleet/Bank of America before joining TD Bank in 2006 as a senior lender and commercial real estate manager.  Kim joined NBT Bank in November 2014 as their Regional Commercial Banking Manager and is currently the Regional President for NBT’s Portland, Maine operation and is board member of MEREDA, Avesta Housing Development Corporation and Community Housing of Maine.

Registering for this Event:

MEREDA Member: $15 each  | Non – Member: $25 each
Register After February 28:  Member: $25 each  |  Non-Member $35 each

Your RSVP is requested by February 28, 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 February 28, 2019.

This DevelopME Lunch & Learn Seminar is sponsored by Preti Flaherty.

Visit  for more information and to register.

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Selecting the Right Project Delivery Method

Kenneth E. Rubinstein, Attorney, Preti Flaherty
Cordelia Pitman, Director of Preconstruction Services, Wright-Ryan Construction

Identifying the right construction project delivery method is critical to successful execution. Three of the most common delivery methods are Design-Bid-Build, Construction Manager (CM) at Risk, and Design-Build. Each of these methods has benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the right one will depend on your unique needs and the project requirements, and will allow you to better manage risk, quality, budget, and schedule. This article identifies the key features, benefits, and aspects to consider within each of these three delivery methods and describes the types of projects for which each method is best suited.


Design-Bid-Build is perhaps the best known and most traditional form of delivery. However, the method does present certain limitations. Within the Design-Bid-Build delivery method,  the owner contracts separately with a design professional and a contractor. The design professional fully develops and delivers complete construction documents before the owner solicits bids from prospective contractors. A contractor is usually then selected based on the lowest price, which is often viewed as an objective criterion. The payment structure is most commonly lump sum, but it may also be cost-plus (based on a unit price), or cost-plus with a guaranteed maximum price (GMP).

Typical rationale assumes that bidding promotes transparency and impartial decision making, delivers the lowest cost, and provides all contractor candidates with a balanced opportunity for selection based on price. Design-Bid-Build provides the owner control over design and a clear division of responsibility among the various roles. However, it does not engage the experience, insight, and counsel of a contractor during the design phase.

This method may be preferable for simpler projects, and is often favored where collaboration is less important. However, Design-Bid-Build may not be an appropriate fit for more complex projects where early and consistent engagement from a construction professional is beneficial. It also might not be the right choice in a heated market because the method isn’t optimal when expedited completion is essential.

Construction Manager (CM) at Risk

In the CM at Risk method, a CM is hired during the project’s design phase (typically early on at the conceptual or schematic design stage) to provide pre-construction services regarding constructability, including systems and materials comparisons, schedule development, and milestone estimates. The owner contracts with the CM who works collaboratively with a design team hired under a separate contract with the Owner. The construction contract is then executed on a cost-plus with GMP basis, with the CM who provided pre-construction services during the design phase usually contracted as the builder under terms established at the outset.

The heightened collaboration between contractor and design professionals in the CM at Risk method typically leads to improved coordination, less conflict, and creative solutions that yield best-value results for the owner. It enables the design team and the owner to compare costs and benefits of various systems early in the project, allowing them to select the most cost-effective systems. This method also enables fast-tracking projects through phased scheduling.

CM at Risk engages a Construction Manager as an equal participant and contributor within a collaborative team. The process allows clients to hand-pick a CM based on the firm’s relevant knowledge, credentials, and expertise managing work similar to the proposed project. The method also consolidates and streamlines construction responsibility through one contract; yields more practicable and foreseeable outcomes; produces a GMP that is fully bonded; and most often results in schedule and cost savings while reducing risk.

The CM at Risk method may be appropriate in complex projects requiring customization since it allows owners to maintain cost controls. The owner can also maximize the value for their dollar on an expedited schedule. Because the CM can propose strategies to gain interest from appropriate subcontractors, it is often the right choice for owners in a heated market.


In the Design-Build method, the owner contracts with a single entity for design and construction, typically on a lump sum, cost-plus, or cost-plus with GMP basis. The single entity may be a builder who subcontracts the design role or a design professional who subcontracts the building role. In either case, the owner provides a “Basis of Design” identifying program requirements, and the design-builder controls aspects of the project not enumerated or defined in the contract.

The Design-Build method eliminates any conflict between design professional and builder, since a single entity holds both responsibilities. Combining the roles may also allow for lower cost and expedited completion due to enhanced collaboration and the ability to commence construction before the completion of design. Moreover, the owner has a single point of contact for simplified communication.

This method, however, requires the owner to put a great deal of trust in a single entity.  Often, the owner will cede control of the design of the project at inception, which may lead to concerns of compromised quality and detail for any item not specifically called out in the basis of design. Fewer checks and balances may present challenges and create risk for less experienced owners.

The efficiencies of the design-build method are nevertheless useful for highly scheduled and cost-sensitive projects. And the risk of losing design control is mitigated in projects featuring repetition or more-formulaic models, such as hotels or dormitories where design elements are well-established.

The selection of a project delivery method is an early decision that will have ramifications throughout the lifetime of a project. Whether you are an owner, contractor, or design professional it is a decision worth informed consideration, taking into account the nature of the project, the needs of the parties, and the construction market.

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

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, 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 (MEREDA) for breakfast on February 26 from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM at the Hollywood Casino Bangor 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:

February 26, 2019 – 7:30AM to 9:00AM

Hollywood Casino Bangor
500 Main Street
Bangor, ME 04101

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

About the Panel:

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 Member: $25 each  | Non – Member: $35 each

Register After February 19:  Member: $35 each  |  Non-Member $45 each

Your RSVP is requested by February 19, 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 February 19, 2019.

This MEREDA Morning Menu Breakfast Event is Sponsored by the City of Bangor and Bangor Savings Bank.

Visit  for more information and to register

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Four Real Estate Leaders Honored at the MEREDA Forecast Conference in Portland

A record of nearly 1000 of Maine’s real estate professionals gathered on January 17 to hear experts give statewide economic projections at the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA)’s annual Forecast Conference, sponsored by TD Bank, in Portland.

In addition to a daylong event featuring economic overviews by region and by industry, the 2019 MEREDA Forecast Conference included an awards ceremony to recognize four outstanding industry professionals, each selected for their contributions to MEREDA and, more generally, to the health of the Maine real estate market over the last several years.

Watch a video of MEREDA’s 2019 award winners.

From left to right: MEREDA President, Gary Vogel, Bev Uhlenhake, Noel Graydon, Roxane Cole, Senator Nate Libby, Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark

Noel Graydon, of Kennebunkport, was selected for the Robert B. Patterson, Jr. Founders’ Award, for his significant contributions to the state’s real estate industry and stalwart support of MEREDA over the years.  An active member of MEREDA’s Board of Directors from 2009-2018, Noel also served on MEREDA’s Membership & Marketing Committee, and was recognized with MEREDA’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2011. MEREDA is also appreciative of Noel’s and Norway Savings Bank’s involvement and support of MEREDA’s morning menu breakfast series over the past 13 years.

With a banking career spanning over 40 years, Noel has worked in both commercial and retail banking and held executive positions in regional and community banks across New England.  Most recently, Noel has served as Regional Vice President of Commercial Lending for Norway Savings Bank and is responsible for the bank’s commercial lending in Southern Maine.

Noel is also active in his community as a youth hockey coach and firefighter.  He has been with the Kennebunkport Fire Department for the past 25 years where he serves as the district chief.

This year’s President’s Award went to Roxane Cole of Falmouth, in recognition of her significant contributions on MEREDA’s behalf.

With her 30 years of experience as a commercial broker, Roxane Cole of Roxane Cole Commercial Real Estate has made an indelible impact on Maine’s real estate industry and MEREDA.  Roxane has been an active member of MEREDA’s Board of Directors since 2003, having served as president from 2006-2008. Her leadership was instrumental in her work on Portland’s Business Diversity Task Force, where she was able to help create consensus and craft a workable ordinance.  For her contributions, she received MEREDA’s 2009 Public Policy Award.  Roxane’s strong support of MEREDA continues—from participating on MEREDA’s public relations search committee to providing commentary for the current edition of the MEREDA Index—Roxane will always step up to help.

Roxane has also served the Portland community over the years in various roles such as: past Chair of the Greater Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, past president of Portland’s Rotary Club, founding board member of the Maine Commercial Association of Realtors, and as a founding board member of the University of Southern Maine Foundation.

Senator Nate Libby, of Androscoggin County, received MEREDA’s Public Policy Award for his significant impact on public policy changes to benefit responsible real estate development and ownership in Maine.

As an advocate for responsible development, home ownership, and reasonable regulation, Senator Libby has distinguished himself as a champion of the issues that matter most to MEREDA. He has demonstrated a willingness to engage with members of the development community, respond to the concerns of the industry, and serve as a tireless advocate.

During his 6 years of service in the Maine Legislature, Senator Libby has sponsored, co-sponsored and supported numerous pieces of legislation of interest to our association, including bills to clarify and simplify the permitting process at the state and municipal levels. He has, in fact, sponsored several bills that were drafted by MEREDA’s public policy committee, and he has worked closely with us to help secure their passage.  In addition, he has sponsored legislation to expand the Maine New Markets Tax Credit, fund the Maine Historic Tax Credit program, fund housing for seniors and support the Tax Increment Financing program.  As a former property manager and a consultant in the economic development community, Senator Libby truly exemplifies the value of a citizen’s legislature, bringing his every day experiences and practical knowledge to the development of public policies for the state of Maine.

Senator Nate Libby currently serves as the Majority Leader in the Maine Senate, having previously served one term in the House and two terms in the Senate, including as Assistant Minority Leader.

Bev Uhlenhake, of Brewer, received MEREDA’s Volunteer of the Year Award for enthusiastically sharing her time and energy and passions with the organization.

Bev has served on MEREDA’s Board since 2012 and has been an essential partner helping MEREDA grow its presence in the Bangor area.  From helping to organize and emcee our Bangor-area events, participating as a speaker at several of MEREDA’s annual conferences, participating on the Public Policy Committee, to contributing to our Developer Roundtable session which helped shape MEREDA’s upcoming legislative agenda—Bev continually devotes her skills and her enthusiasm to help MEREDA and its mission to promote responsible development in the state of Maine.

A broker at Epstein Commercial Real Estate, Bev works in all sectors of the commercial market and has brokered a range of sales, leases, and build to suits for local and national clients.  Bev is currently serving her second term as Mayor of the city of Brewer, where she has been on the city council since 2013.  She also serves as the Immediate Past President of the Rotary Club of Bangor and is involved in a number of other statewide and local organizations including the Brewer Business Alliance. Bev also ran for the Maine State Senate in 2018.

Next, MEREDA will recognize notable projects from the last year in Maine commercial real estate. That awards ceremony is scheduled as part of the organization’s spring conference, on May 7, 2019.

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Want to Know What’s Really Happening in Maine Real Estate? The MEREDA Index Has More Than Just The Numbers.

The MEREDA Index, a key economic indicator for the state of Maine, was presented yesterday at the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA) 2019 Annual Forecast Conference.  While the Index was little changed in the last six months, declining by 0.2% since the first quarter of 2018, the individual components of the Index—commercial, residential, and construction—help tell the story beyond the numbers.

“When we elected to embark on this project in 2013, we understood that this was information that over time would become more meaningful, as a way to compare and chart the progress of the real estate industry in Maine,” says Gary Vogel, MEREDA President and attorney at Drummond Woodsum.

The MEREDA Index is a measure of real estate activity designed to track changes in Maine’s real estate markets.  The Index is a composite of nine seasonally adjusted measures reflecting both new development and transactions involving existing properties and it covers both the commercial and residential markets statewide.  This most recent release covers the middle two quarters of 2018.

“We asked our commentators to share their ‘boots on the ground’ perspective for their sectors so we can all have a deeper understanding of what the nine data points of the Index demonstrate not just for the real estate industry, but also for everyone in Maine,” continues Vogel.  “Relating the broader market data to individual experiences and local variations is part of what makes this project so interesting.”

The MEREDA Index was tabulated by economist Dr. Charles Colgan with commentary from Roxane Cole of Roxane Commercial Real Estate, LLC; Tom Landry of Benchmark Residential & Industrial Real Estate; and Tim Hebert of Hebert Construction, LLC.

Overall, the Index showed small changes in this edition, the result of growth in the residential and construction components offset by declines in the commercial component.

Per Dr. Colgan’s report, the commercial component recovered to pre-recession levels in 2013 and peaked in the second quarter of 2016.  Since then the volume of transactions and the total volume of building square feet leased and sold has been declining.  Over the past six months, these have declined 10% and 20% respectively. However, the per square foot lease and sales price indexes have showed continued growth over the past six months, the former Index up 2.4% and the latter up 8.7%.  Overall, the commercial component declined 2% over the past two quarters.

“The commercial component continues to show great energy even with the slight decline measured in the Index,” says Roxane Cole.  “While the bulk of the activity is in southern Maine, the pockets of activity throughout the state are equally interesting.  One example is the investments being made in downtowns around the state.”

Sales of existing houses and permits for new residential construction continued to grow at 1.9% and 2.3% respectively over the past two quarters.  Mortgage originations also grew apace with sales of existing units at 1.3%.  But the seasonally adjusted median price showed little change through the first three quarters of 2018, falling 0.5% from the first to second quarter and rising 0.4% from the second to third.  Overall, the Index for the median price fell 0.2% over the past two quarters.  The net effect of these changes was a rise in the residential component of 1.3% over the past 6 months.

“It’s all about location, location, location,” says Tom Landry.  “[I]t’s a great time to invest in Maine’s urban areas,” Landry continues.  “And it’s not just Portland, smaller cities and towns like Westbrook, Yarmouth, Brunswick, and Biddeford, for example, are investing in their infrastructure, business community and town centers as well.”

The construction employment component also showed strong performance over the past six months up 5.1%.  At 29,100, construction employment in Maine is still 2,300 below the pre-recession peak of 2006Q1, but 5,000 above the lowest level in the recession in 2009Q4.

“I would equate the current pace of the construction industry to that of a startup company,” says Tim Hebert.  “Opportunities arise faster than there are people available to perform the work.  Contractors are turning away work because the projects have such accelerated timelines for the work to be under contract and complete.”

This edition of the MEREDA Index was underwritten by Eaton Peabody, with support from Benchmark Residential & Investment Real Estate, Katahdin Trust Company, Redstone, Reger Dasco Properties, and XPress Copy

To download a copy of the report or watch a video about the MEREDA Index, please visit

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event – Everyone Needs an Affordable Home: Building on Housing Solutions That Work

Safe, affordable housing is a basic human need. It can lower stress, bolster health and reduce transiency, enabling children to perform better in school, adults to retain jobs, and neighbors to feel connected and safe. Unfortunately, Maine is experiencing a fundamental mismatch between its housing stock and its housing needs, and that mismatch is creating enormous problems for our families and our state’s economic well-being. For tens of thousands of Mainers, the price, quality, size and location of the homes available to them are simply out of synch with their needs and resources. This housing market failure affects wide swaths of Mainers, but seniors on fixed incomes, people with disabilities, and lower-wage workers are particularly affected. Come hear a panel of experts in the housing policy field present the latest data on Maine’s affordable housing crisis, its impact on Maine people, and a major new initiative being considered by the state Legislature to increase the rate of production of affordable homes statewide.

Join MEREDA for breakfast on February 7 from 7:30 AM – 9 AM at the Portland Regency Hotel for a panel discussion with experts in the housing policy field. Amy Cullen from The Szanton Company will moderate the conversation as our panelists present the latest data on Maine’s affordable housing crisis, its impact on Maine people, and a major new initiative being considered by the state Legislature to increase the rate of production of affordable homes statewide.

About the Event:

February 7, 2019 – 7:30AM to 9:00AM

Portland Regency Hotel
20 Milk Street
Portland, ME 04101

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

About the Panel:

Amy Cullen is a development officer at The Szanton Company, where her responsibilities include financial analysis, performing due diligence on potential sites for projects, completing financing applications, and coordinating with lenders, attorneys, architects, contractors and others on all aspects of The Szanton Company’s development projects. Amy also serves as the President of Saco Falls Management, where she is involved with the planning, implementation, marketing and operating strategies for a variety of properties in Maine and New Hampshire.

Greg Payne is the Director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, a diverse association of more than 135 private and public-sector organizations committed to ensuring that all Mainers are adequately and affordably housed. He is also a developer of affordable rental homes at Avesta Housing, a non-profit housing agency based in Portland. Greg has more than 20 years of experience on issues related to housing and homelessness, and currently serves as the chairman of the board of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Jess Maurer is the Executive Director of the Maine Council on Aging, a broad, multidisciplinary network of more than 75 organizations, businesses and community members working to ensure we can all live healthy, engaged and secure lives as we age in our homes and in community settings. In this role, she advances statewide public policy initiatives, provides leadership within Maine’s aging network and supports Maine’s Legislative Caucus on Aging. Her areas of specific focus include housing, transportation, workforce, “aging in place” and care across all settings.

Dana Totman is the President & CEO of Avesta Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing provider with 45+ years of experience as a leader in affordable housing development and property management in southern Maine and New Hampshire. He has led Avesta through significant growth over the past 18 years, with a focus on staff leadership, cultivating partnerships and opportunities, and organizational change. Dana’s career has focused on nonprofit and government management and leadership, specializing in guiding organizations through significant change.

Rick McCarthy is the Managing Director of Eaton Peabody Consulting Group, the government relations and economic development affiliate of Eaton Peabody. Prior to joining Eaton Peabody Consulting Group, Rick served as Chief of Staff to several Maine Senate Presidents. He is recognized in the State House as a skilled consensus builder who is well versed on the major public policy issues of the day. His experience in state and federal budget and finance is particularly strong, along with the topics of transportation, housing, and early care and education.

Registering for this Event:

MEREDA Member: $45 each  | Non – Member: $55 each

Register After January 31:  Member: $55 each  |  Non-Member $65 each

Your RSVP is requested by January 31, 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 January 31, 2019.

This MEREDA Morning Menu Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank. 

Click here to register now.

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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Huston Commons

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, social impact and job creation.

Please join with us in celebrating Huston Commons.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Huston Commons: Huston Commons is a Housing First development for 30 disabled individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness. Through a unique series of nonprofit collaborations, Huston Commons provides essential 24-hour support services, including a medical care room to accommodate regular practitioner hours and telemedicine services for residents, all of whom have disabilities. Avesta Housing is the developer and property manager for Huston Commons, and Preble Street provides 24/7 support services. The project includes a partnership with Greater Portland Health to address specific health concerns and more generally ensure that residents have access to the health and personal care services that medically-compromised individuals typically benefit from in their homes. The onsite medical care room allows Greater Portland Health to schedule regular practitioner hours and telemedicine services for use in treating residents. Portland Housing Authority provides rental assistance to all of the residents to make the rent affordable.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?

Huston Commons: The impetus for this project was an urgent need for safe, affordable, permanent housing for homeless individuals in Portland. The target population for Huston Commons is disabled, medically-vulnerable individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness. There is an immense need for permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals in the Portland area. The number of people seeking emergency shelter has increased by 20% over the past four years, and City shelters have been full for years, creating the need for the continued maintenance of overflow shelters. These overflow shelters have also become filled to capacity, forcing dozens of people to spend their nights sitting in chairs in local government offices or worse. Maine’s most recent annual Point-in-Time survey identified 1,200 experiencing homelessness statewide, and more than half identified themselves as having a chronic disability. In Portland, 497 people were identified as experiencing homeless, and 48% had a chronic disability. A Task Force on Homelessness was formed by the Portland City Council in December 2011 to create a strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, and one of its key recommendations was the development of three “Housing First” projects with in-house supportive services for residents. Huston Commons represents the first of those three projects. Studies have shown that such Housing First projects achieve savings by reducing the need for shelter stays, emergency room visits, jail stays and mental health hospitalizations.

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

Huston Commons: We began working with City officials to identify a site in early 2014, applied for and received an allocation for tax credits in late 2014, received planning board approval in July 2015, and began construction in April 2016.

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

Huston Commons: Huston Commons had a unique development challenge in that the property it sits on had three separate zones running through it. Avesta Housing worked closely with the City of Portland to convert the three zones into one new zone to allow for the construction of Huston Commons.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was…

Huston Commons: Working with mentally and physically handicapped individuals who have been homeless for as much as a decade prior to moving in presents copious challenges that need to be addressed by the entire team – property management, support services, etc.

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

Huston Commons: The number of people seeking emergency shelter in Portland has grown 20% over the past four years. Homelessness is a growing problem with shrinking budgets and solutions. All 30 units are restricted to individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness and have medical challenges. Needless to say, Huston Commons filled up rapidly. Between Avesta’s three Housing First properties in Portland, there are over 100 people on the waitlist – all of whom are homeless today, most of whom have been homeless for quite awhile. The feature of this project that is most notable is its ability to serve our community’s most vulnerable residents with the help of unique organizational partnerships.


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Maine’s Leading Real Estate Experts to Gather for Economic Analysis of Industry on January 17th in Portland

On Thursday, January 17, 2019, nearly 900 of the state’s leading real estate experts will gather in Portland at MEREDA’s Annual Forecast Conference and Member Showcase sponsored by TD Bank. Real Estate continues to be a significant driver of the Maine economy and the MEREDA Forecast Conference provides an opportunity for industry luminaries to share their insight with peers on the health of and challenges faced by their industry. In addition, MEREDA will unveil the MEREDA Index at the conference, a key economic indicator measuring the pulse of the real estate industry.

“We are now in our 5th year of generating the Index and it continues to provide informative analysis that becomes more and more meaningful for our industry,” said Gary Vogel, president of the board of MEREDA and an attorney at Drummond Woodsum.

“While the Index is regarded as a great tool, the Forecast Conference is an event where the important conversations happen—we gather some of our industry’s best minds in one place to reflect on and discuss the trends and factors influencing real estate of all types in Maine,” continued Vogel.

MEREDA’s Annual Forecast Conference is geared towards builders, developers, brokers, attorneys, architects, engineers, municipal leaders, bankers, and accountants.  Continuing Education credits are available for brokers, attorneys, architects, and appraisers.

According to Shelly Clark, MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, MEREDA’s Forecast Conference will be held at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland from 9am to 5pm.  Registration is available at and is expected to sell out.

MEREDA’s Annual Forecast Conference is sponsored by TD Bank.

MEREDA’s upcoming edition of the MEREDA Index is sponsored by Eaton Peabody, Benchmark Residential & Investment Real Estate, Katahdin Trust Company, Reger Dasco Properties, Redstone, and XPress Copy.

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