A Stream or a Ditch? What You Need to Know

By: Joe Roy, Project Technician & Rodney Kelshaw, Project Manager/Project Scientist, Stantec

When evaluating a site for purchase or development it is important to understand environmental resources that could affect allowable uses and property value. One factor that should be considered is the presence and location of streams.

Maine is home to over 5,000 named rivers and streams, crisscrossing the state and covering over 37,000 miles. In addition, the unnamed tributaries that feed into the larger streams and rivers are extremely valuable. In these small streams and brooks (terms that can be used interchangeably) are many insects, plants, amphibians, birds, and mammals that contribute to the overall health of the water that flows downstream to the larger streams. These small watercourses that meet the regulatory definition of a stream can be difficult to recognize.

The Maine Natural Resource Protection Act (NRPA) requires that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) regulate activities that may alter—or are adjacent to—rivers, streams and brooks. The MDEP staff recognized the complexity of identifying small streams and in 2018 released the “Natural Resource Protection Act (NRPA) Identification Guide for Rivers, Streams, and Brooks[i]. The intent of this document was “to be a guidance document for the identification of rivers, streams and brooks. The manual is also intended to assist developers and the regulated community in complying with existing state laws and regulations”.

The NRPA statutory definition of river, stream or brook is “a channel between defined banks. A channel is created by the action of surface water and has 2 or more of the following characteristics (emphasis added);

  1. A) it is depicted as a solid or broken blue line on the most recent edition of the U.S. Geological Survey 7.5 minute series topographic map,
  2. B) it contains or is known to contain flowing water continuously for a period of at leas 6 months of the year in most years,
  3. C) the channel bed is primarily composed of mineral material such as sand and gravel, parent material or bedrock that has been deposited or scoured by water,
  4. D) The channel contains aquatic animals such as fish, aquatic insects or mollusks in the water or, if no surface water is present, within the stream bed,
  5. E) The channel contains aquatic vegetation and is essentially devoid of upland vegetation

It also states that “river, stream, or brook does not mean a ditch or other drainage way constructed, or constructed and maintained, solely for the purpose of draining storm water or a grassy swale”.

A channel that is constructed to drain water is not always a ditch. To determine if a channel is a stream or a ditch the water source must be identified.

A channel is considered an altered stream segment if it connects to an upstream waterbody, such as a stream, spring, wetland, or pond. Stream segments that were relocated by human activities (e.g. diverted into a roadside ditch) remain regulated streams. A channel meeting two of the criteria above and originating from a culvert outlet is a regulated stream if the water source is a wetland, waterbody or spring on the inlet side. In contrast, a channel from a culvert outlet would not be a regulated stream if the only water source is stormwater.

When planning to develop property it is important to understand if there are on-site natural resources and how they could affect development. If there are questionable ditch/stream determinations at a site, the best course of action is to consult the MDEP stream identification guide and if the determination remains unclear to contact a professional who can perform a resource evaluation. The benefits are accurate investment valuation, compliance with the MDEP, and protection of our valuable natural resources.

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[1] Danielson, T. J. 2018.  Natural Resource Protection Act (NRPA) Streams, Rivers, and Brooks.  Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Augusta, ME.

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Maine Real Estate & Development Association Elects Shannon Richards to its Board of Directors

Shannon Richards of Portland has been elected to the board of directors of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), a statewide organization of commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers.

Shannon returned to Maine in the early 2000’s after receiving a BFA from Syracuse University and started a studio soon after which melded a cooperative creative space, gallery and workshop, out of which she designed and manufactured custom furniture and fixtures. This business grew to include interior design, architectural design services and general contracting, and is now called Hay Runner, a real estate development company that provides services related to residential and commercial real estate transactions, project management, design, construction, furnishing and produces design centric events. Hay Runner provides brokerage services through its affiliation with Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty.

Shannon passionately supports artists in Maine as a member of the Board of Directors of the Maine Crafts Association, which has more than 600 artist members and offers retail, educational and marketing support to artists and craftspeople in Maine.  She also supports conservation in Maine as an adviser to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which ensures public access to some of Maine’s most beautiful coastline.  Shannon also participates in the Greater Portland Board of Realtors, the Maine Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Realtors.

Already an active member of MEREDA, Shannon serves on its Conference Committee and most recently took a leading role helping develop the program for its annual Spring Conference held last May.  MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark says, “We are excited to begin working with Shannon at the Board level.  Shannon has a lot of drive and ambition, and certainly brought a new energy when she joined the Conference Committee.  She will be a great addition to MEREDA’s Board of Directors.”

For further information, please contact MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark at 207-874-0801 or visit www.mereda.org.

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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Boothbay Harbor Country Club

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 Boothbay Harbor Country Club.

 

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Boothbay Harbor Country Club:  Designed with features and amenities of a world class club, the Boothbay Harbor Country Club Clubhouse is an award winning 32,000 square foot building that provides a unique experience for members and public guests. The facility, which is perched at the top of a hill, has panoramic vistas over an emerald green 18-hole golf course, transformed with a comprehensive face lift by a nationally-renowned golf course designer.

Some of the finest artisans and craftsmen in the state contributed to the detailed millwork featured throughout, including Hodgdon Yachts. The classic New England shingle-style facility boasts a 60-seat dining room with an open gas masonry fireplace and coffered ceilings. The ceiling’s beauty disguises its complexity, as it integrates and minimizes the visual impact of the complex mechanical systems necessary to support a commercial building of its size. A 54-seat mahogany bar opens up to dramatic views of the course with a 35-foot curved NanaWall, a glass movable wall system. In addition, the facility features first class locker rooms, a pro shop and houses the administrative staff offices as well as support spaces.

At the lower level, which is clad in stonework, a garage houses up to 75 golf carts. The building is integrated into the hillside with multilevel patio seating and a stone arched bridge that provides member access to the clubhouse while allowing golf carts to pass below.

Constructed as Phase II of the Boothbay Harbor Country Club, the Wellness Center features a variety of first-class fitness amenities. An 1,800 square foot fitness room at the main level overlooks the Boothbay town commons and provides members with a variety of customized Life Fitness cardio and resistance training equipment. Adjacent spaces at the main level include a Yoga studio, custom multi-user locker cabinetry, showers and changing areas. At the lower level, a Massage room and a Spin room with TRX suspension trainers provides additional space for group classes and individual club members.

The exterior of the Wellness Center features 2 Har-Tru tennis courts with overlook seating areas, 2 pickle ball courts, a heated salt water pool and an adjacent 12-person hot tub with waterfall feature. The stone paver pool deck provides casual poolside seating along with access to outdoor showers and changing areas. An exterior Bar and Grill, detailed in granite and mahogany and protected by motorized awnings, provides patrons with unparalleled poolside amenities.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?

Boothbay Harbor Country Club:  The planning process began in 2013 when Paul Coulombe, philanthropist and developer, purchased the clubhouse property from a bank-driven power of sale. While he never intended to own a golf course, he recognized the value the 18-hole golf course brought to the Boothbay region community.

After purchasing the property, he began acquiring adjacent parcels to transform the club into an exclusive, state-of-the-art destination, beginning with a new private gated entrance on Route 27 and leading into a master plan that would eventually include a new clubhouse, wellness center, driving range, course-side amenities, and residential-style villas.

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

Boothbay Harbor Country Club:  The focus over the first year was on master planning, developing a revitalization plan for the 18-hole course and building a new driving range. Following that, the focus shifted to improving the facilities and other amenities to match the caliber of the golf experience. The new clubhouse was completed in 2015, followed by the Wellness Center in 2018. The first Villa will be complete in 2019.

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

Boothbay Harbor Country Club:  From the very beginning, the goal was to create a facility with the highest standards of architecture, interior design and craftsmanship.  The greatest challenge in achieving these goals while adhering to the strict timeline and managing the overall budget in relationship to the scale and intricacy of the country club. With a dedicated team and clear end-goals, the deadline for the opening at both facilities was met with both extreme determination and grace.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was…

Boothbay Harbor Country Club:  For the Boothbay region, the country club’s impact as a nationally recognized, award-winning facility has resulted in both economic development and community engagement.  The most unexpected change began with the growth of new members from out of state, who not only joined the club but also purchased homes in the Boothbay region to be able to enjoy the seasonal amenities of the area. Additionally, Paul Coulombe’s investment in the country club sparked many others to invest in the region as well, as a series of new business ventures began following the country club’s success and regional growth.

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

Boothbay Harbor Country Club:  The Boothbay Harbor Country Club has been recognized on many levels for its world class design, including Architectural Digest’s esteemed list of the Most Beautiful Clubhouses in America.  Laura Ratliff of Architectural Digest said “I browsed hundreds of clubs across the country (mostly golf clubs but I also included private/tennis/other sports clubs, where relevant), choosing the most beautiful based on feedback from members, environmental settings, and historical significance. [ … ] Boothbay Harbor’s clubhouse was a perfect blend of luxury and the great outdoors that Maine is so well-known for. The integration of nature through the club’s large windows and outdoor seating areas, like the cozy firepit, sealed the deal for me!”

In parallel to the development of the course, Paul Coulombe also made significant off-site financial contributions to benefit the Town of Boothbay and the residents of the region.  Partnering with the Town of Boothbay and the MDOT, the golf course owner/developer contributed over $1.3M to the construction of a roundabout and beautification of the Town Common.  The developer also provided 100% of the funding for the design and construction of a new state-of-the-art emergency response building for the Boothbay Region Ambulance Service, which doubled the facility’s capacity, an important factor in a community that no longer has a hospital.  Additionally, the developer funded 100% of the design and construction of a new public restroom building located on the Town Common, which offers a public amenity for residents who enjoy year-round community events on the Common.

Paul Coulombe’s investment in the Boothbay Harbor Country Club and his philanthropy toward the Town’s public spaces has had an enormous positive social and economic impact on the Boothbay region.

 

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event – Hotel Development in Portland and in Maine: Opportunities, Challenges and Forecasts

Matthew Arrants, one of the hospitality industry’s most respected professionals, and James Brady, one of Portland’s most prominent hotel developers, will share their views on the excitement and challenges of building hotels in both Portland and in Maine – and the prognosis for the hospitality industry in the immediate future.  Matt Arrants is the Executive Vice President of Pinnacle Advisory Group in Boston, and is the former Chairman of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  He holds a Masters’ Degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University and has worked in various managerial capacities for Four Seasons Hotel and with Rock Resorts.  Jim Brady is the moving force behind Portland’s dynamic Press Hotel, and is currently working on the new Hilton Canopy on Commercial Street in Portland.  Mr. Brady has also been involved in hotel development and management throughout the State of Maine, United States, and Europe.

Make plans to join us for breakfast on September 10 from 7:30 AM – 9 AM at the Portland Regency Hotel as we kick off our 2019/2020 Morning Menu Breakfast Series This powerful ensemble will provide their thoughts and anecdotes on the history of the hospitality industry regionally – and their best guesses for our future. Moderated by David Soley of Bernstein Shur.

About the Event:

September 10, 2019 – 7:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Portland Regency Hotel
20 Milk Street
Portland, ME

Buffet Breakfast: 7:30 – 8:00 a.m.
Program: 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

About the Presenters:

Matthew Arrants, ISHC, CHAM is the Executive Vice President of Pinnacle Advisory Group, working in both the Boston and Portland offices. As Pinnacle’s Director of Asset Management Services, Matt specializes in asset management, development services, and operational reviews. His clients include hotels, universities, hospitals, real estate investment funds, and lenders. Matt is currently a board member of the Hotel Asset Manager’s Association (HAMA) and leads that group’s marketing committee.  Matt holds the prestigious Certified Hotel Asset Manager (CHAM) designation from HAMA and a former Chairman of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, a group of the hospitality industry’s most respected professionals from across six continents.

Jim Brady is a real estate developer with extensive experience designing, constructing and operating branded and non-franchised hotel properties. He is the developer of The Press Hotel, a 110 room Autograph Collection in Portland, Maine. Following the opening in May 2015, the hotel has won several prestigious awards, scores within the top 5% of all Autograph Collection Marriott hotels, is the Portland market RevPAR leader as well as TripAdvisor’s #1 hotel in the market.

In 2017 Jim founded Fathom Companies, where he serves as the President and Director, specializing in the development of mixed use, hospitality, and redevelopment of historic properties. Currently, Fathom has many ongoing development projects, including a 135 room Canopy by Hilton to be located on Commercial Street.

Prior to Fathom, Jim co-founded and served as President of Olympia Development for 10 years. Olympia Development completed over $200 million in real estate projects, including five ground-up hotels, and was named “Developer of the Year” in 2004 by Hilton Hotels Corporation worldwide. After leaving Olympia in 2008 to live in Bologna Italy, he served as Project Director for MProject on a €400 million redevelopment of multiple projects including the planning, approvals and design management of a historic rehabilitation of the famed Excelsior and Des Bains Hotels working with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts to convert to hotel and branded residences.

Registering for this Event:

Your RSVP is requested by September 3, 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 3, 2019.

Ticket Prices:

Members: $45 each | Non-Members: $55 each
Prices increase by $10 after September 3, 2019

To register, please visit www.mereda.org

This MEREDA Morning Breakfast Event is sponsored by Norway Savings Bank, Bernstein Shur, Fathom Companies and Wright-Ryan Construction. 

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Introduction to Opportunity Zone Investments

By Nelson A. Toner, Bernstein Shur and S. Andrew (Andy) Smith, Baker Newman Noyes

On December 22, 2017, Congress enacted and the President signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that introduced into the Code a tax benefit for certain investments in businesses in Opportunity Zones.  Opportunity Zones are distressed communities in each State as designated by the Governor of each State.  Since the enactment of the legislation, the Treasury has issued two sets of Proposed Regulations that provide additional guidance regarding these tax benefits.  In three separate seminars (one in Portland, one in Bangor, and one in Lewiston) we have presented the basic rules for the tax benefit for an investment in a business in an Opportunity Zone.

The Opportunity Zone tax benefit rules should be viewed as providing two tax benefits: (1) the deferral of taxes on capital gains and (2) the elimination of tax from the appreciation of the investment of capital gains if the investment is held at least 10 years.

A taxpayer may elect to defer the income tax on capital gains from the sale of a capital asset to an unrelated party if the taxpayer invests the capital gains into a qualified opportunity fund within 180 days of the date of the sale.  An important special 180-day rule applies to capital gains arising from the sale of a capital asset by a partnership (or LLC that is treated as a partnership for income tax purposes).  In this case, if the partnership does not elect to defer the taxes on the capital gain, then the partners (members of the LLC) may elect to defer the taxes on the capital gain during the 180-day period beginning on December 31 of the year of the sale.

The capital gains contributed to the qualified opportunity fund are reduced if the taxpayer retains the investment.  If the taxpayer retains the investment in the qualified opportunity fund for 5 years, then the income taxes on 10% of the contributed capital gains are forgiven and if the taxpayer retains the investment in the qualified opportunity fund for 7 years, then the income taxes on an additional 5% of the contributed capital gains are forgiven.  The taxpayer must pay income taxes on the remaining capital gains upon the earlier of (a) the date of sale of the investment in the qualified opportunity fund or (b) December 31, 2026.

For example, assume that Taxpayer A sells stock and realizes $100x of capital gain.  Within 180 days of the sale of the stock, Taxpayer A transfers the amount of the capital gain to a qualified opportunity fund and elects to defer the income taxes on the capital gain.  When Taxpayer A has held his or her investment in the qualified opportunity fund for 5 years, $10x of the capital gains is no longer subject to income tax, and when Taxpayer A has held his or her investment in the qualified opportunity fund for 7 years, another $5x of the capital gains is no longer subject to income tax.  If Taxpayer A has held the investment for at least 7 years on December 31, 2026, then Taxpayer A will report $85x of the capital gains on his or her 2026 income tax return.

Also, if the taxpayer holds the investment in the qualified opportunity zone fund for at least 10 years, then any appreciation in value above the initial contribution of capital gains will not be subject to income taxes when the investment is sold.  Continuing with our example, if Taxpayer A holds his or her investment in the qualified opportunity fund for 12 years and then sells his or her position in the qualified opportunity fund for $150x, the appreciation of $50x will not be subject to income tax.

The qualified opportunity fund is an important feature of the Opportunity Zone rules.  For these purposes, a qualified opportunity fund is an investment vehicle that is organized as a partnership or a corporation.  Under the tax rules, a partnership is an unincorporated entity with 2 or more owners.  Therefore, a sole member limited liability company that is disregarded for tax purposes is not a partnership and cannot be a qualified opportunity fund.  However, a sole member limited liability company that has elected to be treated as a corporation can be a qualified opportunity fund.  The purpose of the qualified opportunity fund must be investment in qualified opportunity zone property.  The qualified opportunity fund must hold at least 90% of its assets in qualified opportunity zone property, as measured in the middle of each tax year and at the end of each tax year.

The next significant concept is qualified opportunity fund property.  For these purposes, qualified opportunity fund property means qualified opportunity zone stock, qualified opportunity zone partnership interest or qualified opportunity zone business property.  Qualified opportunity zone stock is stock in a domestic corporation that is purchased for cash by the qualified opportunity zone fund after December 31, 2017, where the corporation is a qualified opportunity zone business (or is a new corporation that is organized to be a qualified opportunity zone business) and during substantially all of the time that the qualified opportunity fund held the stock of the corporation, the corporation was a qualified opportunity zone business.  There is a similar definition for a qualified opportunity zone partnership interest.  If the qualified opportunity zone fund holds qualified opportunity zone stock or qualified opportunity zone partnership interest, then the qualified opportunity fund holds an ownership interest in the operating business entity.

In addition, the qualified opportunity fund can directly purchase the operating assets of a trade or business, if such assets are qualified opportunity zone business property.  Specifically, qualified opportunity zone business property is tangible property (both personal and real estate) that is purchased by the qualified opportunity fund after December 31, 2017, the initial use of the property in the qualified opportunity property commences with the qualified opportunity fund or the qualified opportunity fund significantly improves the property, and during substantially all of the time that the qualified opportunity fund held the property substantially all of the use of such property was in a qualified opportunity zone.  A property is significantly improved if expenditures to improve the property during any 30-month period beginning on or after the date of purchase equal or exceed the purchase price of the property.

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Short gains can be part of your long game: George Casey looks ahead.

One of home building operations’ true gurus focuses on an ROI-based approach to changing ‘the way we’ve always done it.’ 

By George Casey, Stockbridge Associates 

I spent a lot of last year working on ideas, knowledge, business models, and all things automation when it comes to housing.

It is an exciting space transcending modular and manufactured housing created primarily in factories, components of houses created in factories, also, and the rise of new technologies and robotics to do things like 3D printing of houses, robotic installation of brick and block, and the advent of sensors, connectors, and networks for the roll out of Internet of Things in homes.

Some of this stuff will make a difference in the short run, but most will take years to roll out to any scale that is meaningful in terms of bending the cost-time curve for the creation of mass housing.

The bottom line is that we will be stuck using close variants of the current model of creating housing with a mix-and-match conglomeration of subcontractors, trade partners, suppliers, manufacturers, and consultants for a longer time than many currently think.

This system will be bumping up against the skilled labor shortages across all of the major components of the industry, driving costs higher; probably faster than overall incomes of the population and continuing the ever-growing housing affordability and availability crisis that we are witnessing.

One can see that the long-term solution has to be a drastic improvement of productivity in the creation of housing that more people can afford. More house for less labor and material dollars and delivered way quicker than we do right now.

The only proven long-term solution is the creation of housing in factories using high levels of automation and continuous improvement of the design, engineering, and manufacturing processes.

But this will take time, a rejiggering of who does this work, new capital, new partnerships, new leadership, and new business models.

We can see hints of this future in the actions of Clayton, Entekra, Proto, Katerra, the various Japanese acquirers of US builders and developers, and the nascent combinations of traditional manufacturers and suppliers with technology suppliers to create more efficient solutions to the creation of housing and housing components.

I am not smart enough to know whether this transition will take 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or 30 years. I only know that the trend will continue with acceleration and that it is probably not reversible.

The industry and its key players will change and giant opportunities from this change will emerge. Fortunes will be made and lost in the transition.

For those driving the change it will be a series of steps, mis-steps, failure, learning, success and exciting times.

For those being disrupted, it will be jolts of angst and ultimately decisions of whether (or how) to adapt or the decision to fold the tent and try something else.

Buggy whip guys as the cars came in. Butch and Sundance wondering “who are those guys?”

That is the long game.

But there is a short game out there that should not be ignored, for in it lie opportunities for existing builders who are willing to adapt.

One of the simplest lessons I have learned from watching the off-site solution companies is the value of integrated design and engineering alongside trade partners in the creation of the plans and construction documents for houses.

Using the integrated approach with the help of BIM software helps to value engineer from the start in conjunction with wise and creative design. This collaboration and documentation take cost, error, and time out of the housing production process, whether components are built in a factory or on-site.

It involves a different way of attacking the front-end of the housing creation process and means some different skill sets, but is relatively easy to implement and does not cost a lot.

The ROI is worth it.

Many builders are adopting this approach currently.

A deeper and even more productive change involves a re-think of the construction process on-site.

If the near and intermediate future of building still involves most of the work done on-site with subcontractors and suppliers, there are two approaches that can take time and cost out of the current system.

The first involves bringing critical trades and processes in-house to help create more efficient workflows and a consistency and predictability of process and stability of workforce.

If process can be controlled and the players in the process can remain consistent and be trained up, there are huge opportunities for cycle-time reduction as well as cost reduction.

But it is a change, although not impossible. DiVosta Homes in Florida is probably the poster child of this method and has put up some of the best numbers in terms of margin and return on assets that I have ever seen.

It takes investment and management willpower to adopt this system, but it works if you are willing.

The second involves a set of deeper partnerships with a smaller group of trade contactors, suppliers, and manufacturers coupled with a commitment of industrial engineering to make the existing on-site building manufacturing process more efficient and less wasteful of time and money,

Integrated upfront collaboration in design and engineering is a start. But carrying that collaboration to scheduling and process improvement are the next steps to gain efficiency.

Over 20 years ago, I utilized such a system in several home building companies and master planned community builder/developers that I ran. Cutting cycle-times by more than 50% to well under 100 calendar days and driving unleveraged returns-on-assets from the mid-teens to over 100% per year were achieved in less than two years of implementation time and with scheduling software that was stone-age compared to that currently available.

But it involved a different approach and organization. A process control and improvement department provided the “industrial engineering” across not only our internal processes, but those of our trade partners, to drive away waste and inefficiency for all of us.

It was not easy, but it worked. Many of those who learned this system still use it, vowing never to go back to the “other way”.

Again, it took a dedicated focus on a different business model, an intensity of collecting and using field data to change the way things were done, and a continual drive to reduce cycle time and increase customer satisfaction at the same time to get the results.

The investment in a different kind of overhead was nowhere near as expensive as building a factory, but it had an unbelievably high ROI.

This is what the short game for builders would look like IF they wanted to become much more efficient, productive, and profitable.

But it would not be business as usual.

Collaborations with existing suppliers and manufacturers could help fill in the skillsets needed for industrial engineering and process control. There are opportunities for new programs that could open new relationship and revenue sources for the suppliers and manufacturers, if they chose to rethink the supply chain relationships with builders, evolving from selling commodities to selling solutions. Advance thinking firms like IBACOS are working on these business models as we speak.

The smart builders, trade partners, suppliers, and manufacturers will be playing both the long and the short games. It will be exciting for those choosing to play and evolve by thinking differently.

It will provide an interesting pathway forward and, who knows: the short game might end up evolving to be the long game solution along the way.

But you will never know unless you choose to play the new game.

Who wants to suit up?

Originally published on February 4, 2019, Builder  https://www.builderonline.com/builder-100/strategy/short-gains-can-be-part-of-your-long-game-george-casey-looks-ahead_o

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Maine Real Estate & Development Association Elects Matthew Pitzer to its Board of Directors

Matthew Pitzer, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C of Falmouth has been elected to the board of directors of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), a statewide organization of commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers.

Matt joined CHA Architecture (formerly PDT Architects) after spending more than ten years in Boston as a designer specializing in preservation and envelope restoration of prominent historic structures.  He is an adept project manager and practice leader with excellent organizational and planning skills and a personal commitment to design that confers broad social benefits. At CHA Architecture he manages several complex projects that require a thorough understanding of current building science techniques for durable, healthy, energy-efficient buildings.

MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark says, “Matt will be a great addition to MEREDA’s Board of Directors, bringing with him great expertise and industry knowledge. Matt will also volunteer his time on MEREDA’s Public Policy Committee, and we are anxious to begin working with him.”

For further information, please contact MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark at 207-874-0801 or visit www.mereda.org.

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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street 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, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

Please join with us in celebrating the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons in Waterville.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons:  As part of a multi-million dollar downtown revitalization effort spearheaded by Colby College and in partnership with the City of Waterville, a four-block section is being redeveloped that will transform Main Street into a thriving destination for visitors, residents, and new businesses.

The signature piece of the master plan, and the first new construction project in downtown Waterville in decades, is the Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, a five-story, 103,000-square foot, mixed-use building with 52 student apartments and retail space. Designed for 200 students, the building also includes four, two-bedroom faculty apartments and four studio apartments for staff members; a first-floor fitness center; a studio wellness center for yoga or meditation; a classroom on the second floor with full A/V capabilities; two, two-story glassed-in social lounges for recreation and study; a fifth-floor reading room; study nooks on each floor; and laundry facilities on the third and fourth floors.

On the ground floor of the building is a 3,800-SF glassed-in multi-purpose community space, the Chace Community Forum, that is used as meeting space for Colby, the Waterville City Council, non-profit organizations, and other community groups. The ground floor also contains Camden National Bank’s new prototype location and retail space for additional tenants.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?   Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons:   The Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons was an integral part of a revitalization plan endorsed by Waterville city government. An inclusive visioning process engaged diverse participants and partners including representatives from local institutions, business owners, downtown residents and citizens throughout the city and beyond. A pillar in the revitalization plan was to attract more residents to the downtown. The Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons has contributed to that goal by housing 200 students in addition to faculty and staff in eight apartments.

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

Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons:   The larger planning process, of which this project is an element, commenced in the spring of 2015. In the summer of 2015 stakeholder workshops were held to discuss initial thoughts and “blue sky” ideas, framework concepts, initial priorities for implementation, transportation and public priorities. The City also completed two other workshops related to the revitalization goals, both in 2015; the Spring St intersection study and a Waterfront Public Workshop. Another integral pillar in the revitalization plan was a transportation study of downtown. The City, Colby and the Maine DOT partnered on this study that commenced in January of 2016. The City of Waterville formally endorsed the revitalization plan in February of 2016. Throughout the spring and summer of 2016 downtown business and resident meetings were held to obtain public input. Due to the occupancy deadline of the fall 2018, Colby pursued a design-build methodology. After the issuance of a request for proposal to multiple firm and several months of diligence the project was awarded to the design-build team of Landry French Construction and Ayers Saint Gross. An agreement signed in April of 2017.

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

Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons:   First, the discovery of unsuitable soils at the project site during the first week of site work presented an unforeseen challenge. The standard geotechnical studies were performed prior to design, the site was evaluated from its historical uses and additional borings were performed. Unfortunately, the borings were located just outside of areas that were found to be abandoned basements filled with rubble. The initial foundation design was based on geo-piers, however, the encountered fill was found to not be usable with that design. A decision had to be made week 1 to change the foundation design and completely excavate the project site to native soils and move to a standard spread footing/foundation design.

Second was the winter of 2017/18. This building envelope is predominantly brick masonry units. To maintain the schedule, the masonry contractor had to provide the project with the labor necessary, which averaged between 25-30 masons and tenders daily. There was period of several weeks where the outside temperatures did not rise above zero and temperatures in the -15 below range were not uncommon. Keeping a masonry crew of that size and under those weather conditions, without losing time, took a dedicated crew (and a healthy winter conditions budget!). No time was lost and the quality of the masonry installation was not compromised.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was….

 Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons:   The importance of regular, ongoing and honest communications with the public on the street. Waterville is a small city (population of 16,000) that had not experienced any downtown construction in over 50 years. The local community was intensely interested in this project, which became the center of conversation at the library, local lunch counter and pubs. Maintaining transparency and credibility was critically important.

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

 Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons:   The new Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons is a noteworthy project because it’s part of a broader revitalization effort undertaken by Colby College, city leaders, local businesspeople and community organizations in downtown Waterville. The investment is already showing a payoff, both economically and socially.

The Alfond Main Street Commons, the first significant downtown building project undertaken in decades, was designed with civic engagement in mind, deepening the connection between Colby and the broader Waterville community. The social impact has been tremendous with 200 students who are now active in the community, partnering and volunteering with nonprofits and other community organizations.

The project has infused millions of dollars into the local economy, and also been the catalyst for additional economic activity and investment in downtown Waterville. Main Street is now a thriving destination for visitors, residents, and businesses.

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Maine Real Estate & Development Association Recognizes Retiring Board Member

The Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) has announced that Brian Curley, AIA, LEED AP, president of CHA Architecture (formerly PDT Architects) has retired from MEREDA’s Board of Directors after 8 years of service. In addition to serving as one of MEREDA’s vice presidents since 2015, he has also been co-chair of the Conference Committee and served on the Executive Committee.  Brian has been twice recognized with MEREDA’s President’s Award in both 2014 & 2016.

“MEREDA has been fortunate to have Brian serve on the board for 8 years,” commented Shelly R. Clark, Vice President of Operations for MEREDA.  “We are grateful for, and have benefited significantly from, Brian’s expertise and unwavering support throughout the years. He has been a highly effective volunteer providing significant leadership and guidance.  We will miss his dedication, can-do attitude, and infectious laugh!”

For further information, please contact MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark at 207-874-0801 or visit www.mereda.org.

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MEREDA’s Year in Review 2018 -2019

Since its inception, MEREDA has continued to make progress on behalf of the development community addressing the challenges and issues relating to Maine’s real estate activities.  MEREDA’s strength has always come from the support and participation of its valued members. While we look forward to the beginning of a new fiscal year, it is important that we take a moment to look back and reflect on our accomplishments, and take time to thank you, MEREDA’s members, (330+) for your investment in the Association over the year.  Your continuing support is critical to our ability to maintain and increase our advocacy work, programs and related services, which are all vital to development interests in Maine.  

It’s been a very busy year, and we are excited to share with you our “Year in Review 2018 – 2019”.

MEREDA’s Three Overarching Priorities.  MEREDA continues to serve its members’ mutual interests in responsible development by advocating for fair and predictable regulation, hosting events rich with educational and industry insight, all the while providing opportunities to network with a diverse group of real estate professionals.  

Advocacy

MEREDA Legislation Receives Unanimous Vote to Advance from the Environment and Natural Resources Committee – MEREDA submitted LD 550 to correct a technical error in a law that created a waiver from subdivision review for projects dividing a building into three or more dwelling units. LD 550 corrects an erroneous statutory reference to restore the original intent of the law, which is to allow those projects to receive a waiver from subdivision law so long as they have been approved under a municipal site plan review ordinance.

On May 30, 2019, Governor Mills signed into law LD 550, An Act to Amend the Definition of “Subdivision” in the Laws Governing Planning and Land Use Regulation for Subdivisions and a Provision Excepting the Division of a New or Existing Structure from Those Laws Beginning July 1, 2018. LD 550 is chaptered law at 2019 Public Law, Chapter 174, and will take effect 90 days from the date of final legislative adjournment.

MEREDA Work on Non-Residential Property Transaction Disclosure for Abutting Roads – This session, two bills were submitted dealing with the non-residential property disclosure enacted in 2018 as part of a law dealing with discontinued roads. The law enacted in 2018 requires the seller of non-residential real property to disclose to the buyer information, if known, regarding the existence and maintenance (including the existence of any responsible road association) of abandoned or discontinued town ways, the existence of public easements and the existence of any private roads located on or abutting the property.  MEREDA submitted a bill, LD 1181, proposing to repeal all the required disclosures for non-residential property transactions.  The Maine Association of Realtors (MAR) submitted a bill, LD 848, that proposed to narrow the non-residential property disclosures to mirror residential property disclosures as they relate to public ways and maintenance of the public ways.  Ultimately, the Committee adopted LD 848 as a compromise measure.  This new law will limit the scope of non-residential disclosure to information, if known, describing the means of accessing the property by a public way, and to information related to the maintenance of the public way, or to any relevant road association.  It will remove the requirement to disclose the existence of abandoned or discontinued town ways and public easements. The new law was signed by the Governor on May 23 and is chaptered at 2019 Public Laws, Chapter 142. It will take effect 90 days from the date of legislative adjournment – sometime early this fall.

MEREDA’s Legislative Reception on March 13, 2019 at the Senator Inn was well-attended by legislators from a number of committees, including Environment and Natural Resources, Taxation, Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business, and Labor and Housing.  Members of the MEREDA Board as well as other members were on hand to greet legislators, share information about the commercial real estate and development industry, and get updates on the events under the dome.

Education & Insight

Morning Menu Meetings, Networking Events, Conferences – MEREDA has held nearly 20 events this past year – topics ranging from AIA Contracts, Workforce Development, Opportunity Zones, among others. MEREDA’s breakfast and social events held throughout the state bring together highly-regarded experts.

DevelopME continues to develop its “Lunch & Learn” series aimed at drawing on the expertise of MEREDA’s seasoned members and sharing their experiences with this group of emerging professionals, as well as a mentorship program, walking tours, and other special projects to cultivate and connect MEREDA’s future leaders within the organization.

Successful Forecast and Spring Conferences – MEREDA’s signature event, the annual Forecast Conference and Member Showcase in January attracted 1000+ attendees, and this year’s spring conference saw 300 attendees. Each year, MEREDA works hard to find forward thinking, trend-worthy topics for the annual spring conference, and each year seems to amaze us!  This year our goal for the spring conference focused on the Future of Housing in Maine and brought together industry leaders to collaborate and innovate on finding solutions for the housing challenges Maine faces.

MEREDA Index – MEREDA is always keeping its finger on the pulse of the state’s real estate market. The Spring 2019 MEREDA Index reflects a solid performance in the real estate market coming in at 100.1.

With increased construction costs impacting projects statewide, there are many questions as to how the real estate market will be affected.  While the Index showed a slight 2% ebb primarily because of declines in the commercial market, Index commentators see vibrant, active markets with plenty of opportunities in the future.

“I’ve always found the MEREDA Index to be an extremely valuable tool,” says Tim Soley of East Brown Cow Management, Inc.  “Not only is it a great source for measuring changes in our industry over time, but it is also a wellspring of information from industry leaders sharing their insights,” continues Soley.

Learn more by watching the following video or downloading the hard copy.

The Maine Real Estate Insider –Published by Mainebiz, this weekly e-newsletter provides a valuable source for all things real estate in Maine – including recent transactions, promotions and valuable and informative content for you and your business. It is MEREDA’s pleasure to support our members and the health of this important Maine industry by continuing to provide weekly content to this online newsletter which features news and information from MEREDA as well as from Maine’s real estate community.

MEREDA relies on members like you to help us provide the weekly content for MEREDA’s sidebar.  We encourage all members who have an interest, to contact us with any questions or story ideas: info@mereda.org.  Articles should be informational / educational items, trends, etc. that pertains to real estate and that would be useful to the membership or general reader.

Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark at Build Maine – June 6, 2019


Build Maine
 – Again this year, MEREDA supported “Build Maine: a tactical approach to growing Maine towns and cities” in its new venue at the Royal Oak Room & Iron Horse Court in Lewiston with a day-long program of dynamic, nationally renowned speakers.  Build Maine brings together all people participating in the act of building our cities. The builders, funders, elected officials, engineers, lawyers, planners, finance institutions, and rule-makers converge annually to share best practices and aspirations for moving Maine forward within the political and economic climates of today.  MEREDA is pleased to be able to support and participate in this annual event.

 

Networking

The opportunity to connect with a diverse network of real estate professionals and related service providers is a valued benefit of the MEREDA membership.  Over the years, many beneficial business relationships have begun at one of our annual social events, conferences, breakfast forums, and even through committee work.  We held 3 annual networking events, along with providing separate socializing time at our annual Forecast & Spring conferences, Bowl-a-Thon, and breakfasts, which give our members several opportunities to get to know one another.

Annual Strikes for Scholars – On May 23rd, MEREDA hosted its 7th Annual “Strikes for Scholars” Bowl-a-Thon Fundraising Event at Bayside Bowl in Portland.  MEREDA members put together 24 teams to raise money and fund scholarships for Maine students enrolled in the building trades and business programs at the Maine Community College System or the College of Science, Technology & Health at USM. Again this year, MEREDA will be able to provide sixteen $1250 scholarships to students throughout the State.  Since the fundraiser’s inception, MEREDA is proud to have raised and donated over $107,000 in scholar­ships helping over 78 Maine students by making it a little easier for them to achieve their goal of obtaining a college credential.

Thank you to our faithful members!  Your continued support ensures that we can continue to provide value and remain the most active nonprofit helping to promote responsible development in Maine.  We wish you an enjoyable summer and look forward to seeing you back here this fall for more great events beginning in September.

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