Maine Real Estate & Development Association to Welcome National Retrofitting Expert to May 22 Conference in Portland

National expert to be joined by local panel for event entitled “The Retrofitting Movement: Repositioning Underutilized Commercial Real Estate” 

PORTLAND, Maine (May 3, 2013) – The Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) will host a conversation around the cutting-edge concept of retrofitting and creative re-use planning at their annual spring conference, scheduled for May 22 in Portland. MEREDA will welcome to Maine a leading expert on the topic of retrofitting, Ellen Dunham-Jones, and will host a panel of local experts. Additionally, MEREDA will recognize the six most noteworthy and significant Maine commercial development projects from the previous year at the conference.

Dunham-Jones is a leading authority on suburban redevelopment.  She has been featured in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Harvard Design Magazine, Urban Land, Planning, Architectural Record, TEDx and other venues. Co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia, Dunham-Jones will share case studies of underperforming asphalt properties that have been redesigned and redeveloped into vital centers of community. Her presentation will focus on adaptive reuse of vacant buildings, environmental repair, revising zoning codes and public works standards and providing easements for future connectivity and adaptability.

Local experts who will participate on the panel include Sarah Schindler of the University of Maine School of Law, Denis Lachman of Lachman Architects & Planners, Tex Haeuser of the City of South Portland, Vanessa Farr of the Town of Yarmouth and Craig Gorris of The Maine Mall. Each have been involved in the retrofitting movement and will support Dunham-Jones’ presentation by addressing some of the practical challenges and opportunities with respect to retrofitting in Maine communities.

“Retrofitting is one of the important trends in play all around the country and MEREDA is pleased to host this discussion. Ellen is a true expert and it’s a real boon to have her in Maine,” said Drew Sigfridson, MEREDA President. “Attendees will explore how Maine communities, large and small, can reach their architectural, cultural, and economic potential by making best use of scarce community resources to enhance commerce, walkability and community heritage.”

MEREDA will also recognize the six most notable 2012 commercial development projects in Maine, all of which embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible development; projects include:

West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor by Ocean Properties, Ltd.
The Lofts at Bates Mill in Lewiston by The Szanton Company
Harold Alfond Forum in Biddeford by the University of New England
Oak Street Lofts in Portland by Avesta Housing
Park Street School in Kennebunk by Avesta Housing
Emery School in Biddeford by Avesta Housing

Sigfridson notes that MEREDA hosts a spring conference annually, and that while everyone is welcome, the intended audience is real estate developers and their allies, such as attorneys, architects, engineers, bankers, realtors, planners, municipal officials and/or “anyone interested in a creative and useful tool that creates value while enhancing community.”

MEREDA’s “The Retrofitting Movement: Repositioning Underutilized Commercial Real Estate” will take place on Wednesday, May 22 at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland from 1 to 5 pm, with a social hour to follow. Admission is $95 and pre-registration is required. MEREDA members are offered a $20 discount and, this year, students and municipal officials and employees are offered free admission with pre-registration.

The conference is sponsored by Blais Civil Engineers, Libby Hill, Mainebiz, Pierce Atwood, EnviroVantage, Building Envelope Specialists, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, SMRT and Sevee & Maher Engineers.

For more information and to register, click here.

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