Over 900 of Maine’s real estate and development professionals converged on the Holiday Inn by the Bay Thursday, each one on the hunt for the latest and greatest industry information and connections. “Anyone who stayed in the office is going to have a very quiet day without much activity by phone or email,” quipped MEREDA’s president, Gary Vogel, “Today, it’s all happening here!”
An all-star lineup of speakers proved Vogel a prophet, providing promising forecasts and reports on Maine markets from Bangor to Kittery. This year saw the addition of a York County Forecast to the conference agenda, hinting at an underlying theme: the growing importance of secondary and tertiary markets in Maine. Areas such as York County, Lewiston-Auburn, and Saco- Biddeford are experiencing substantial popularity and growth, particularly as the Portland
market wrestles with the dichotomy of maximum occupancy and costly construction.
With the “NO” on the proverbial “VACANCY” sign almost constantly illuminated in Portland’s finished spaces, investors and businesses are choosing to renovate Maine’s more senior structures, reinvigorating and repurposing them to meet modern demands. Nearly all experts in attendance promised the trend of mill restoration to continue into 2020, as suburban communities seek to imbue new life to these historic hubs. Presenting the Southern Maine Industrial Forecast, Justin Lamontagne of NAI The Dunham Group spun the phrase “Innovation District” to describe this attitude of persistence in prosperity inspiring Portland’s suburbs.
This theme of innovative spirit echoed Commissioner Heather Johnson’s keynote address at the conference, concentrating on the 10 Year Economic Plan, recently unveiled by Governor Mills’ administration. Even with the snow falling heavily outside the Holiday Inn, Commissioner Johnson’s outlook was a sunny one; Augusta’s confidence in the state’s ability to continue attracting young families and budding professional talent to all communities remains high. Continuing in the theme of locality, Andrea Cianchette Maker introduced MEREDA’s new Local Issues Committee, intended to provide a degree of agility and responsiveness to development matters at a municipal level.
With Maine recently ranked #4 on a global list of destinations, Vacationland is guaranteed to own its nickname in the coming year. However, as beautifully-repurposed spaces build beautifully-reinvigorated communities and promise high qualities of living, the forecast for Maine trends less towards its worth for a visit, and more towards its worth for a lifetime.