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3 days ago · · Comments Off on Tax Reform has Mostly Good News for the Real Estate Industry

Tax Reform has Mostly Good News for the Real Estate Industry

By Andrew Smith, Principal, Baker Newman Noyes

December’s federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”) contains some of the most significant tax law changes seen in decades.  Many in the real estate industry will come out ahead as a result of the changes, and this article provides a brief overview of the new rules.

Reduced tax rates

Taxable C corporations formerly faced graduated rates topping out at 35%, but the Act permanently reduced it to a flat 21% beginning in 2018.  For flow-through entity owners, the top rate dropped from 39.6% to 37% beginning with 2018 and continuing through 2025.  Self-employment tax and the net investment income tax remain unchanged.

20% deduction of flow-through income

Beginning with 2018, most owners of flow-through entities (“FTE”) may deduct up to 20% of that taxpayer’s share of the entity’s business income.  Rental income appears to qualify, but the law is vague and clarification is expected.  Dividend income, capital gains, an interest income, wages and guaranteed payments do not qualify.

Under complex rules and calculations, filers with taxable incomes that do not exceed $315,000 for married couples, or $157,500 for others, may receive the full deduction; those with higher incomes face potential limitations:

  1. For certain personal service providers, the benefit is partially phased out when taxable income is between $315,000 and $415,000 for married couples, or $157,500 and $207,500 for others. The benefit is fully phased out if taxable income exceeds those ranges.
  2. Taxpayers other than certain personal service providers, but whose income exceeds the $315,000 or $157,500 threshold amounts, do not face the phaseout described above, but other reductions of the benefit will apply that can be overcome only if (1) wages paid by the entity to its employees are high enough, or (2) the cost of fixed assets held by the entity is high enough.

Business interest expense limitation 

Beginning with 2018, business interest deductions are limited to 30% of income.  This limit applies regardless of the entity’s form of business, but exceptions exist for entities with average gross receipts of $25 million or less, banks, and vehicle dealerships.

The 30% limit applies to adjusted taxable income (“ATI”).  ATI is generally taxable income other than interest itself, gains unrelated to a trade or business, net operating losses, and the 20% FTE deduction.  It also excludes depreciation, amortization, and depletion deductions, but only until 2022.

Interest limited by these rules may be carried forward.  Although the limitation is computed at the entity level, special rules allocate disallowed interest (generated in years the limit applies) or excess income (generated in years the limit does not apply) to flow-through entity owners, for their use in a very complex tracking system that preserves the deduction but defers its use.

Bonus depreciation

This deduction was extended through 2026.  The percentage of cost that may be deducted depends on the date placed in service:

9/28/17 – 12/31/22         100%

1/1/23 – 12/31/23           80%

1/1/24 – 12/31/24           60%

1/1/25 – 12/31/25           40%

1/1/26 – 12/31/26           20%

1/1/27 and forward        0% (expired)

“Used” property now qualifies if it is “new” to the taxpayer, and was not previously owned by a related party.

Section 179 

This deduction is expanded by allowing expensing of $1,000,000, with a phaseout that begins at costs exceeding $2,500,000.  Interior nonresidential real property improvements now qualify, as do HVAC, security systems, and fire alarm and protection systems.  Property used to furnish lodging facilities now qualifies.  These increases are permanent and indexed for inflation.

Qualified Opportunity Zones

Three new incentives in the form of gain deferral, gain exclusion, or basis increases are provided for those who invest in certain low-income communities known as Qualified Opportunity Zones through the use of Qualified Opportunity Funds.

Net operating losses

Newly-created net operating losses may no longer be carried backward, but may be carried forward indefinitely.  However, only 80% of a year’s income may be offset by a loss carryforward.

Excess business losses

This new concept limits the amount of business losses (such as flow-through income from S corporations and partnership) that can offset other income (such as wages or investment income) on a filer’s 1040.  The amount useable annually is $500,000 for joint filers and $250,000 for others.  Any losses exceeding those amounts are converted to net operating loss carryforwards. 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is complex, and the information above barely scratches the surface of the depth and breadth of the rules.  However, those involved in many industries, including real estate, should become familiar with the rules and ensure that to the extent possible and reasonable, business is conducted in a way that maximizes the benefit. 

Andrew Smith, CPA, is a principal in the tax department of Baker Newman Noyes.  He specializes in the real estate and construction industry.

1 week ago · · Comments Off on Solar Plus Complementary Technologies Leads to an Economical, Sustainable Grid

Solar Plus Complementary Technologies Leads to an Economical, Sustainable Grid

By Fred Greenhalgh, Employee-Owner ReVision Energy

MRRA microgrid at Brunswick Landing in Brunswick ME by ReVision Energy

Thanks to over a 75% decline in the cost of solar panels over the last ten years, it’s now economically viable (and environmentally necessary) to fully power our modern society with clean energy. However, solar panels alone don’t get us out of the climate bind – we must also convert loads that have traditionally been met by burning oil or gas to use electricity instead. This concept – converting to a 100% electricity-powered world – is called strategic electrification.

Why Electrify?

Common wisdom has been that certain needs – transportation and home heating, for example – could only be met by burning of fuels. Thanks to modern heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and electric cars, this is no longer the case.

A few quick facts – a heat pump in a home in Maine will produce heat for the equivalent price of $1/gallon of oil, and it costs the equivalent of around $1/gallon of gas to drive an electric vehicle.

Maine currently spends over $5 billion annually on heating oil and gasoline, at a tremendous cost to our local economy and environment. With strategic electrification, we can keep more of these energy dollars at home and do our part to mitigate carbon pollution.

The Case for Solar Plus

Converting to these all-electric options without also cleaning up the electricity mix misses the mark. The current electric grid is antiquated – it’s too large, too centralized, and too inefficient. Adding massive infrastructure and huge, remote power plants made sense in 1950, but not in 2018.

A future-ready grid takes into account that most people in the near-future will be producer-consumers, making some power and consuming some power. Deployable resources like electric vehicles, batteries, and even water heaters can help balance the intermittency of renewable energy. Furthermore, combining the economics of solar plus these new electric technologies unlocks a much more substantial ROI for the consumer.

Solar photovoltaic is now the least expensive form of electricity on the planet – in most parts of the United States, including the Northeast, a homeowner, business, or organization can buy solar for less per kilowatt-hour than the traditional utility grid.

Smart Electronics Ensure Grid Stability

To the end user, the electric grid looks easy – turn on a light switch and Bam! there’s power. There is a tremendous amount of technical work behind the scenes, however, ensuring stability of service. Critics often cite the intermittency of renewable inputs as a strike against their ability to be taken to scale, however, understanding the possibilities of load balancing and demand response quickly quashes this criticism.

With our current grid, demand response is already in play, but it is generally only used on the large scale. For example, large, industrial customers are often incentivized to lower their usage during peak hours.

Modern electronics make this feature available to everyone. With current, readily available technology, it’s no harder to turn off 1,000 water heaters than it is to turn off a paper mill. This allows grid operators to think more creatively about how to balance grid stability in a fully electrified context.

Consider a heat pump water heater that can be controlled by the grid. Electronics can tell the water heater to run when there is excess solar on the grid, or to stop when grid demand is high. In essence, this works just like a battery, but at roughly 2% of the cost, since all that’s involved is a smart switch that tells the water heater to run or not.

From the consumer’s perspective, the heat pump water heater is a way to reduce nearly 300 gallons of oil use in their home each year. However, from the grid operator’s end, it’s part of an expanding, integrated network of smart-devices that help manage an internet of energy.

The Modernization Imperative

Strategic electrification offers major opportunities for grid operators, end users, and all of society. Converting to a 100% clean energy grid is imperative not only for the sake of the planet, but also for its powerful economic incentives.

2 weeks ago · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Tyler Technologies

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Tyler Technologies

In multi-part series, exclusive to the Maine 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 Tyler Technologies.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Tyler Technologies:  Designed by Mark Mueller and Associates and built by Zachau Construction, the new Tyler Technologies expansion project consists of 5 floors of high-tech office space combined with numerous health and wellness amenities.  Completed in November of 2017,  the 100,000 square foot office building includes new state-of-the-art product demo spaces, (5) new training centers, and an array of collaborative flex-office and private breakout rooms that allow for long-term project collaboration.  The project also includes a new auditorium, cafeteria, fitness center, and an outstanding connection to the outdoors.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project? 

Tyler Technologies:  For Tyler Technologies, the expansion project represents the heart of a strategic growth plan that includes hiring 550 new employees by embracing Maine’s loyal workforce while positively impacting the community.  The objective was clear; design and build a state-of-the-art office building that would provide workspaces and the technology infrastructure for people to collaborate, work, and play.

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

Tyler Technologies:  Preconstruction from concept to mobilization was just under a year.  The design guidelines were established with deliberate focus on employee health, sustainability, and community.  From employment to the environment, considerations were made every step of the way to ensure that what was right for Tyler Technologies was also right for the community.  To reduce excessive tree removal and site clearing, site retention ponds were eliminated and replaced with a subsurface retention system housed below the parking lots.  Embracing the connection to the outdoors while focusing on interior sustainability such as LED lighting, advanced HVAC and lighting controls, and special consideration to daylighting were paramount to creating an office building with a balance of privacy and collaboration to stimulate creativity and also provide unique quiet spaces for focused planning.

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

Tyler Technologies:  Like all construction projects, the expansion was not without its challenges; designing and building a state-of-the-art facility within the client’s budget without sacrificing the goals was our primary focus.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was…

Tyler Technologies:  With such a collaborative preconstruction and planning phase, we were able to eliminate major surprises during construction.  Throughout the design process though, it was remarkable to learn that Tyler Technologies was so committed to their employees and remained the focus of the project.

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

Tyler Technologies:  By doubling their office space capacity, Tyler Technologies is now able to provide high-tech office space to house the more than 550 new employees  expected through 2021.  With robust integration of modern telecommunication technology, both new and existing employees will experience reduced travel and will find more time at home and in the community.  New jobs will range from software development to professional sales, marketing, and financing while increasing and diversifying the local tax base.  As Yarmouth Economic Development Director Denise Clavette said of the expansion “It sets the stage for strategic growth in the market.  It keeps people in Maine and attracts young people right out of college”.

3 weeks ago · · Comments Off on Maine Real Estate & Development Association Recognizes Retiring Board Member

Maine Real Estate & Development Association Recognizes Retiring Board Member

The Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) has announced that Michael O’Reilly, Senior Vice President / Commercial Banking Team Lead –New Hampshire for Bangor Savings Bank has retired from MEREDA’s Board of Directors after 10 years of service. During this time, Mike served as president from 2014 – 2016 and was recognized with MEREDA’s President’s Award in 2017.  During his tenure, he has chaired MEREDA’s Membership & Marketing Committee, and served on the Executive Committee.  Leading with enthusiasm and inclusivity, Mike has been an inspiration for fellow board members and for the organization’s strategic goals. He has brought many ideas to the table over the years, including the cultivation of young, up and coming members as part of the DevelopME framework.

“We thank Mike for his unwavering support and dedication to his voluntary leadership role with MEREDA.  As an organization that relies on the support of its volunteer Board, we are deeply thankful to Mike for his many years of service to the organization and our industry,” commented Shelly R. Clark, Vice President of Operations for MEREDA.

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

3 weeks ago · · Comments Off on FocusMaine Underway: a ten-year initiative to create traded jobs in Maine

FocusMaine Underway: a ten-year initiative to create traded jobs in Maine

FocusMaine is now approaching the second year of a ten-year, private sector-led initiative to accelerate the creation of 20,000 quality jobs in Maine. The strategy includes investing in three of Maine’s most globally competitive and high-growth fields: agriculture, aquaculture, and biopharmaceuticals. These sectors are critical because they are strongly positioned to sell their goods and services outside the state thereby growing the market for Maine products, building on Maine’s assets, and responding to global consumer demand.

The strategy builds on Maine’s inherent assets such as its pristine ocean and extensive coastline, a growing food sector, and the proximity to major urban markets, including the rapidly growing biopharmaceutical market in Boston. Importantly, FocusMaine is centered on traded jobs (Traded jobs are defined as those that produce goods or services that are sold primarily outside of the state, a process which then increases wealth in the state.) because they generally have higher rates of full-time work, pay higher wages, and create, on average, an additional 1.6 new jobs in the local economy.

The implementation plan shares some commonalities across the three sectors—including business plan development, business acceleration support, and business recruitment.  Through FocusMaine, for example, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Maine & Co., and the Maine Aquaculture Association are working together to identify and recruit new firms to Maine’s expanding aquaculture sector to help grow and diversify Maine’s production capacity.

In addition, FocusMaine is working with partners to support emerging and mid-sized businesses through an aquaculture-focused Top Gun program; a dedicated food, beverage and agriculture accelerator program; and a program to strengthen the value chain for promising Maine products.  The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs’ Cultivator program, for example, is supporting nine diverse Maine food companies that are ready for second-level growth and have an interest in expanding their out-of-state market. Similarly, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. is examining opportunities across the value chain to grow Maine food businesses, beginning with potato rotational crops such as grains.

Complementary to all of FocusMaine’s efforts is ensuring that there is great talent to get the work done. Maine’s low unemployment numbers and shrinking labor force are daunting challenges to the state’s entrepreneurial future. With that in mind, FocusMaine’s strategy includes a FocusMaine Internship Experience that integrates professional development and networking into Maine summer internships for young people who are considering a career in Maine. Looking ahead, FocusMaine will build on existing efforts to attract and retain young people with the talent needed to help Maine grow in the future.

FocusMaine is the result of a collaboration between co-chairs Andrea Cianchette Maker, partner at Pierce Atwood, LLP, and Michael Dubyak, chairman of WEX, Inc., to change the trajectory for high-value jobs in Maine by expanding the market for Maine goods and services. FocusMaine is an initiative of the Foundation for a Strong Maine Economy. FocusMaine’s President Kimberly Hamilton, Ph.D. leads the effort in concert with a highly respected leadership team, advisory councils, and implementing partners.

FocusMaine is positioned for success largely due to its thoughtful and evidence-based planning process, the support of a wide-range of corporate and philanthropic investments, expert advice and guidance, and strong partners. You can read more about FocusMaine in the latest FocusMaine newsletter here. http://focusmaine.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FocusMaine-June-Newsletter-FINAL.pdf

1 month ago · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Luminato Condominiums

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Luminato Condominiums

In multi-part series, exclusive to the Maine 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 Luminato Condominiums.


MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Luminato Condominiums:  Luminato Condominiums is a newly constructed residential project on Franklin Street in Portland’s East End. It includes 24 market-rate units ranging from 1 to 3 bedrooms at prices from the mid $200,000s to more than $1,000,000. The intention was to offer home ownership at a variety of unit sizes and price points in order to support the creation of a diverse residential community. Unit layouts include signature NewHeight Group features such as one level living, ceilings that reach 10 feet, oversized triple glazed windows, and raised rooms that let in light while also creating storage underneath the room.

Luminato offers forward-thinking features that help make day-to-day life hassle free—a dedicated mailroom where deliveries are out of sight and secure, indoor parking that includes storage units above the cars, and shared storage for bikes, skis and sports gear.  Residents share innovative amenities including a fitness room, a guest room for overnight visitors, a lounge, and a roof-top deck with 360 degree views. See luminatocondos.com.

Luminato set a record as all 24 units in the building were under contract more than six months prior to construction completion. Luminato contributed substantively to the city’s tax base, creating 24 housing units on the same footprint formerly occupied by 5 housing units.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project? 

Luminato Condominiums:  One aspiration that drove the creation of Luminato was to offer opportunities for workers and business owners contributing to the Maine economy to purchase a new home in a well-constructed building at a total annual cost comparable to renting one of the new Class A apartments being constructed in Portland.  We hoped to create a community of diverse owners who shared a sense of engagement in Portland, and we believe this goal was achieved. Buyers include a banker, a scientist, a nurse, an interior designer, a tech worker, and an architect, among others.  Five buyers own businesses in Maine while nine others work for Maine-based organizations. Only one buyer is retired. Buyers range in age from 20-something to 70-something. Five buyers are first-time homeowners. There are no investors.

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

Luminato Condominiums:  We started discussions with the landowner in the fall of 2015 and finalized the land acquisition at the end of that year.  We spent the first quarter of 2016 in the City of Portland approval process, obtaining our subdivision approval in late March.  By May of 2017 all units were under contract.  We broke ground in August of 2016 and delivered the first units in October of 2017. We turned operation of the Condominium Association over to the homeowners in February of 2018.

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

Luminato Condominiums: Labor shortages proved to be our greatest challenge, something to which we are sure all business owners in Maine can relate.  We were not willing to sacrifice quality for speed, so we worked with Landry/French Construction, our general contractor, to find the best possible tradesmen and keep them on the job until finished. Construction projects in Maine and around the country are competing for skilled labor.  Almost all projects under construction in 2017 experienced a manpower shortage, adding complications to the construction process, timeline, and budget of building state-of-the-art projects.

In addition, being the first to apply under the form-based code and the inclusionary zoning required creativity and engagement of the city planning department and other organizations. The Luminato project team collaborated with Community Housing of Maine to workforce housing units on a contiguous parcel versus contributing to the city housing fund.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was…

Luminato Condominiums:  We have been thrilled at how the green roof we incorporated not only provides our storm water management system, but also provides a truly beautiful natural surround to the shared roof deck and the private decks on the sixth floor. It changes color by season, but is interesting in all seasons, we have discovered.

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

Luminato Condominiums: In terms of a physical feature, Luminato is the first newly constructed building in the Urban Transition district of the new India Street Neighborhood Form Based Code. It provides the start of what will hopefully be a series of well-designed structures on the east side of Franklin Street, providing an attractive, contemporary introduction to residents and visitors arriving in Portland via Franklin Street from I-295 and elsewhere.

Portland’s use of the India Street Form Based Code as a tool to foster more desirable, dense development of urban dwellings, especially along the city’s arterials and broader urban streets made it possible for Luminato to rise 77 feet above grade. The form-based code encourages taller buildings along Portland’s main thoroughfares of Franklin and Congress Streets and replaces a patchwork of zoning districts with a cohesive approach to achieving the goals of the new India Street Neighborhood Plan.

The form based code replaces inconsistent, and often self-defeating, minimum lot size requirements with requirements relating to the form, character and architecture of a building so that it fits harmoniously into its surrounding environment.  As a result, Luminato creates an interesting facade with angled walls, inset decks, and since it steps back as it gets taller, terraces that are surrounded by green roof. All of these features are unusual among residential buildings completed or under construction in Portland.

In terms of a lifestyle feature, Luminato embraces and promotes the concept of “living light” as part of a shared economy philosophy.  In particular, 12 one-bedroom units under 780 square feet (one-half of the total 24 units) were included in the design. These unit owners find the shared amenities – a guest room they can reserve for overnight visitors, a lounge for quiet time or small meetings, a well-equipped fitness room, and the roof deck – particularly attractive, enabling them to “buy small while living large.”   The goal was to keep the price point reasonable, design innovative layouts, and offer more value by providing owners with access to ample shared spaces within the building.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention that in support of Maine’s creative economy, Luminato engaged local craftspeople such as Westbrook-based furniture maker Furniturea to provide furnishings for Luminato, and three Maine artists, including two Maine College of Art (MECA) graduates, were commissioned to create artworks for the building’s public spaces.

The all-local project team included NewHeight Group, Archetype Architects, Landry/French Construction and Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution. In support of Maine’s creative economy, NewHeight Group engaged local craftspeople to provide furnishings and three Maine artists were commissioned to create artworks for the building’s public spaces.

1 month ago · · Comments Off on Workforce Challenges – How Innovation Can Help

Workforce Challenges – How Innovation Can Help

Last month, nearly 300 members of MEREDA, the trade association for responsible real estate development in Maine, joined together to discuss the challenges facing the industry, which in spite of being the state’s number two driver of GDP, is being proactive about positioning for the future, in hopes of staying relevant.

“We take seriously our role in Maine’s economic, cultural, and built landscape, and are thrilled to converse about our health and posterity, and to position for continued and sustainable growth,” said Paul Peck, president of the board at MEREDA. “Real estate developers, architects, engineers, bankers, attorneys — we all play a pivotal role in the tourism economy, the livelihood of seniors, the infrastructure of our communities, and the vibrancy of our downtowns, to name a few; we don’t take that responsibility lightly. This conversation is a sophisticated turning point for our industry.”

Peck kicked off the event by asking a question: “With an aging population and fewer skilled crafts workers, how can the industry find workers to keep pace, never mind positioning for growth?”

“With an older infrastructure, record low unemployment, mounting regulatory hurdles, and a high demand for lifestyle properties, Maine faces considerable challenges,” responded John Dorrer, a labor economist and workforce analyst who has been tracking Maine workforce and labor market issues for over 40 years.

After painting a relatively bleak picture about the number and quality of workers available in Maine’s economy, Dorrer offered some solutions for businesses, including: 1) Put a succession plan in place to address retiring workers and how you’ll fill their positions, 2) Ensure that your wages are competitive to attract skilled labor, and 3) Look to navigate low social security payments to lure individuals back to the labor force with retirement-friendly hours and responsibilities.

Attendees gained insight into the impact new innovative techniques have on the labor shortage and on the real estate industry and learned about the demographic conditions that exist within the real estate industry; who’s leaving it, who’s joining it, the hiring and retention challenges.

Dorrer also broke down the numbers to offer outlooks on specific occupations and skill sets, including a run-down of what new opportunities exist for people coming into the industry, and how our communities and state will change as these new technologies enter the mix.

The afternoon consisted of a panel discussion with local experts who gave on-the-ground examples of how firms can embrace new technologies and methodologies to attract labor, meet quality benchmarks, and position our industry—and Maine—for growth.

That c

onversation, moderated by Andrea Cianchette Maker of Pierce Atwood, included: Ellen Belknap, president of SMRT Architects Engineers; Dave Thomas, project executive with Consigli Construction; and Ronald Cantor, president of Southern Maine Community College.

They each tackled various innovative solutions they’re employing to keep Maine’s construction and real estate sector relevant, including drones, robotics, 3D printing, LEAN principles, hiring and training strategies, and improved work culture.

Both Belknap and Thomas gave many examples and case studies of how investing in over planning is the key to reducing inefficiencies and waste. They said that doing so must be a good cultural fit, with Thomas offering that a company’s values and behaviors directly correlate to that culture.

Cantor seemed to agree, offering examples of how he and his team at SMCC have changed their culture to fit the intersection of needs of today’s students and employers, with revised and more flexible pathways toward certificates and degrees, and a more responsive recruitment model, including reverse job fairs.

“Today’s forum was a first step as MEREDA looks to help with Maine’s worker gap while ensuring that the integrity, quality, and economic relevance of our work is not compromised. We look forward to continuing that conversation,” said Peck.

2 months ago · · Comments Off on 7 Steps to Make your Business Relocation a Success

7 Steps to Make your Business Relocation a Success

Relocating your business is a complicated process that requires planning, organization and diligence. At CBRE|The Boulos Company we strive to make those transitions for our clients as smooth as possible. Here are seven tried and true steps to make sure your relocation is successful.


Create a feasible time line that will allow for all the necessary stages of your move. For a small office, you’ll need at least three months to prepare and for a medium to large office, at least six to eight months. The key is to start as early as possible. Next, collect all information on the new space. Try to acquire blue prints or floor layouts so you can identify key components such as electrical outlets, storage space, etc. and most importantly, to determine the new office layout. Use your current office to compare; if there are areas that aren’t working, identify them so those issues can be resolved in your new space. Also, make a list of potential problems with the new space, such as a smaller reception area or less storage area or perhaps a larger open space that may require more cubicles or temporary walls. It may be necessary to hire carpenters or painters if walls need to be constructed or painted.


Your business identity is key to keeping your customers informed about who and where you are. Put up signs in your current location, if you have one, about your upcoming move. Update all of your stationery, business cards, signage, and digital platforms before you move to reduce confusion once the move takes place. Make sure your new signage is easily seen from the street of your new location and have updated marketing materials ready at your new location. The stronger your business’ identity, the smoother the transition. 3.


An office relocation can bring out a multitude of changes for any organization. These changes need to be managed in a sensitive and empathetic way in order to encourage positive behavior and increased productivity within your workforce. When it comes to an office move, there’s an entire labyrinth of tasks to think about; including staff consultation, employment law, changes to employment contracts—as well as the need for a comprehensive internal communication strategy that informs, updates and manages the relocation correctly for staff. Not only is a relocation logistical, it’s emotional. Make sure your employees’ voices are heard by holding employee forums where they can ask questions and voice concerns. These forums are also a great way to inform and promote the new space to your staff, helping them feel part of the plan and the bigger picture.


Now for the move itself. Whether you choose to manage the logistics of the move yourself or you hire a professional moving company, there are several things that should be done to facilitate a smooth move. Moving can actually require more work in your existing space than in your new space, including cleaning and discarding unnecessary items, shredding old files, labeling everything, and making sure the space is in good condition once empty. In the new location, it’s important that everyone knows where to go and where to put things. Enlarge copies of floor plans to use as guides for furniture arrangement and post directional signs to help movers and your staff navigate. It’s also helpful to arrange for exclusive use of any elevators, loading docks, or emergency doors during the scheduled move times. Make sure surrounding business are notified if entrances, driveways, or parking will be obstructed during the move.


IT and Telecommunications—this incorporates the management of your entire communications infrastructure when you change your office location. Your new office may require new network cabling, additional phone and ISDN lines or even a dedicated server room. If you do not have the expertise within your staff you will need to hire professionals to make sure all your systems are re-connected and ready-to-go on that first morning in your new office. Printers are sensitive devices just like computers. Remove printer cartridges, tape down covers and scanner lids, and be sure to follow any specific instructions for moving FAX machines, copiers, and printers—improper moving may damage a device and void the warranty. For the move into the new space, make sure to know what equipment (phones, faxes, servers) will be up and running and when so nothing falls through the cracks.


If you rent a truck, opt for the insurance coverage. Although many private insurance policies might cover rental car damage very few cover damages if you get into an accident in a rental truck (which are classified as “equipment.”) If you use a moving company, be sure to ask about insurance coverage options to protect your belongings. You should also ask to see the moving company’s proof of worker’s comp insurance. If you inadvertently hire “day labor” or the truck company does not carry insurance, you could be at least partially liable for moving related injuries to workers.


Change of address is one of the most important pieces of information that needs to be shared in as many different ways as possible. First, make sure to tell all regularly-used vendors about your relocation so that no service is interrupted. Once that’s done, you can move on to everyone else. Along with the usual change-of-address protocols, like notifying the USPS, banking institutions, and insurance companies, you should also make a list of all your professional interactions and figure out the best way to notify them. You can print change-of-address cards for customers and stamp outgoing correspondence with “Note New Address.” Also, make sure to update all search engines and websites that list your address.

So what’s the takeaway here? When it comes to relocating, there’s no way to over-prepare and no way to over-communicate. The more you do of each, the easier your transition will be.

Looking for your next work space? Check out www.boulos.com for all our listings.

Original publication can be found here:  April 30, 2018 – April Boulos Report: https://f.tlcollect.com/fr2/518/56516/7_Steps_to_Make_Your_Business_Relocation_a_Success.pdf

2 months ago · · Comments Off on MEREDA honors top 10 “Notable Projects”

MEREDA honors top 10 “Notable Projects”

The Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), the state’s leading organization for responsible real estate development, honored the top ten real estate developments in Maine in 2017, and honored representatives from each with a prestigious “Notable Project” award at its conference in Portland on May 16.

“The MEREDA board of directors selected exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2017, which not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to excellent jobs and increased tax bases for our cities and towns,” said Paul Peck, MEREDA board president and real estate developer. “We considered more than 50 worthy projects, following our selection criteria to narrow the list to ten award winners.”

Each of the ten winning projects was selected based upon criteria including: noteworthy and significant project completed* in 2017 (*Building Occupancy Permit must be issued by 12 31 17.), environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, social impact, uniqueness, difficulty of development and job creation.

Highlights of each of the ten honorees are listed below.

  • Anew Development’s 65 Munjoy Street in Portland: “65 Munjoy Condominium is a three-story, walk-up building offering eight high-quality, and amenity rich units in a range of 1, 2 and 3-bedrooms. 65 Munjoy presents the best of modern design and materials while respecting the traditional architectural forms, organization and massing that characterize Portland’s Munjoy Hill. 65 Munjoy is a unique and innovative response to Portland’s need for quality, efficient, ownership housing that is attainable by middle-income buyers. While the high quality and amenity rich units at 65 Munjoy appeal to buyers at any segment in the market, they were offered at reduced price points and made available exclusively to middle-income households.”
  • Tedlum Associates’ Aura in Portland: “Aura is the transformation of a 1960s-era nightclub into a sophisticated, high-tech performance venue in the heart of downtown Portland. After nearly 20 years in business, Aura’s owners wished to expand and modernize its iconic entertainment venue, formerly known as Asylum. This “labor of love” presented many logistical challenges, including a tight urban footprint in a historic district, and the need to fast-track the project to keep staff employed during construction.”
  • Portland Housing Authority & Avesta Housing’s Bayside Anchor in Portland: “This is a 45-unit, mixed-income, mixed-use Passive House Building located in the heart of the East Bayside neighborhood in Portland. The building has nine market-rate units and 36 affordable units targeted for individuals and families making between approximately $23,000 and $49,000 annually. Bayside Anchor is a service hub for low-income residents in East Bayside, giving the project its name as a stabilizing ‘anchor’ for the community. The street level is home to a Head Start preschool program and Community Policing and PHA offices. Bayside Anchor is PHA’s first new development in 45 years, and a first step in revitalizing their properties in this neighborhood. These homes, along with the community services Bayside Anchor offers, will further enrich this already vibrant neighborhood.”
  • RBDD Cliff House Acquisitions’ Cliff House Maine in Cape Neddick: “The iconic Cliff House Maine, sitting on the edge of Bald Head Cliff in Cape Neddick, has been welcoming guests since 1872 but reemerged recently as one of the most captivating waterfront resorts of its kind. Leading investment firm, Rockbridge partnered with Maine hoteliers Marc Dugas and Peter Anastos to create RBDD Cliff House Acquisitions, LLC which purchased the property in 2014. The resort has been thoughtfully reimagined with extensive renovations and expansions to capture the best of Maine in every season. The resort recently completed a landmark transformation across 70 oceanfront acres. Cliff House reopened with newly designed guest rooms and suites, over 25,000 square feet of new meeting and event space, including a new cliffside ballroom, oceanfront dining and bars, indigenous landscaping, and many other enhancements. A new luxury spa and wellness center added to the already lengthy list of resort amenities.”
  • Augusta Housing Authority & Developers Collaborative’s Hodgkins School Apartments in Augusta: “The Ella R. Hodgkins Intermediate School was constructed in 1958 as part of a comprehensive school building campaign in Augusta, to improve the quality of education for students of the city. The school is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is significant architecturally as an intact example of a modern, mid-century school building following the most recent trends in design and construction. While the building was vacant vandals broke skylights along with a considerable amount of the ridged glass block in the rear façade. Fortunately matching glass block was sourced to replace the damaged ones. Hodgkins School was one of the first buildings of its kind to be evaluated by the National Park Service that contained a large amount of glass block in its facade. Making this building not only unique to Maine, but also to the entire U.S.A. The NPS approval process for the glass block details required setting a precedent for future historic renovations of this era throughout the U.S.A. and thus required more than typical dialog between SHPO, NPS, Owner, and MaineHousing. This historically significant school was renovated into Hodgkins School Apartments resulting in 47 apartment units for low income elderly.”
  • The Szanton Company’s Huse School Apartments in Bath: “Huse School Apartments involved the renovation of the former John E.L. Huse Memorial School, built in 1942 and 1949 in Bath. The elementary school was re-purposed to create 31 apartments and added a new construction wing with 28 apartments, for a total of 59 units. The project was financed using a combination of affordable housing tax credits and historic tax credits. The project provides quality affordable and market-rate apartments with amenities such as an elevator, fitness room, community room in a part of the re-purposed gym, laundry room, and more. Nearby amenities include Bath’s modern YMCA, the 5-mile Whiskeag Trail, and the bus line. Downtown Bath (with all of its services and attractions) is a half mile walk from the Huse School.”
  • Avesta Housing’s Huston Commons in Portland: “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 the 24/7 supportive 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 federal project-based rental assistance to all of the residents to make the rent affordable.”
  • NewHeight Group’s Luminato in Portland: Luminato is 24 market-rate units ranging from 1 to 3 bedrooms at prices that ranged from the mid $200,000s to more than $1,000,000. Luminato embraces and promotes the concept of “living light” as part of a sharing economy philosophy. Twelve one-bedroom units under 740 square feet were included in the design. All home owners benefit from the shared amenities – a guest room they can reserve for overnight visitors, a lounge for quiet time or small meetings, a well-equipped fitness room, and a roof deck with 360 degree views surrounded by a beautiful natural green roof. Intended to enable city dwellers to “buy small while living large,” Luminato residents enjoy forward-thinking features that help make day-to-day life hassle free—a dedicated mailroom where deliveries are out of sight and secure, indoor parking and racks for bikes, skis and paddles. Being the first to apply under the inclusionary zoning required creativity and engagement of several organizations. The Luminato project team collaborated with Community Housing of Maine to workforce housing units on a contiguous parcel versus contributing to the city housing fund. Luminato was the first newly constructed building in the Urban Transition district under the new India Street Neighborhood Form Based Code, creating an interesting facade with angled walls, inset decks, and as it gets taller, terraces that are surrounded by green roof that also provides the storm water management system.”
  • Chinburg Properties’ Saco Mill #4 in Saco: “Saco Mill #4 is a mill redevelopment project that created 150 market rate apartments and 30,000 square feet of leasable commercial space. The project was an adaptive re-use of a long vacant mill building situated on Saco Island in the Biddeford-Saco Mills Historic District. The development team restored the mill to National Park Service standards. The four-story, 240,000 square foot 19th century mill was acquired by an affiliate of Chinburg Properties in December 2014. Construction began in September 2015. The apartments were completed in two phases, with the first 93 apartments completed on April 1, 2017 and the remaining 57 apartments completed on June 1, 2017. The apartments feature exposed brick and timber ceilings, beams and columns, polished concrete floors with radiant heat, kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The building also includes amenities such as a club room, roof-top deck, fitness center, dog wash & groom room, cyber lounge, café, and conference room. The commercial space at Saco Mill #4 includes Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and other locally owned small businesses. The project is noteworthy due to its sheer size, its recognition of the strong demand for downtown living outside of Portland, and the joint efforts of the developer, the City, and the developer’s financing team led by Maine-based Camden National Bank and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. to make the project a reality.”
  • Zachau Construction for the Tyler Technologies expansion in Yarmouth: “Founded in 1966, Tyler Technologies is the leading provider of end-to-end information management solutions and services for local Government. Purchased from Cole Haan in 2008, the original 87,000 SF office building is located on Route 1 in Yarmouth. With offices throughout the country, Yarmouth is home to the Enterprise Resource Planning and School divisions. The campus also houses the company’s cloud-based services and is the location of several top executives including CEO & Chairman of the Board, and Falmouth native, John Marr. Jr. For Tyler Technologies, the expansion project represents the heart of a strategic growth plan that includes hiring 550 new employees by embracing Maine’s loyal workforce while positively impacting the community. The objective was clear; design and build a state-of-the-art office building that would provide workspaces and the technology infrastructure for people to collaborate, work, and play.”

For a complete list of honorees with full details, view this PDF.

2 months ago · · Comments Off on 4 Ways to Prepare Your Business for a Storm

4 Ways to Prepare Your Business for a Storm

Here in Maine within the last few years we have had to contend with some severe flooding/storms that have interrupted businesses from operating normally. Some of the businesses ended up having to close their doors as they did not have contingency or action plans in place. Don’t be one of the potential businesses that do not reopen after a disaster.

When flood water enters your building, your first thought may be related to how you could have prevented the disaster. Instead of letting a flooded building ruin your operations for several days, or even several weeks, there are steps you should take to prepare your business for impending storms. 

1. Develop a Plan 

Planning for water damage is the best way to deal with it when it arrives. Decide who is responsible for doing what in the event of a disaster and what you need to do to operate your business from a remote site. You should write out this plan and introduce it to your employees, so they are aware of what to do when flood water entering your building becomes a possibility. 

2. Back Up Your Data

Your business’ data and important information may not survive a flood if it is not backed up to remote or cloud-based servers. Well before a disaster hits, take time to research data backup options and transfer important information from your physical location to electronic files. 

3. Watch the Weather

It’s hard to know if a flood will happen if you aren’t aware of the weather. Pay attention to the weather in your area and put your emergency plan into action if there is a chance your location could flood in the event of a serious storm.

4. Plan for Quick Restoration

Before a storm hits your location, know the names and contact information for your key contractors (Plumbers, Electricians, HVAC Company, Painters, Landscaping, Snow Removal, and Restoration Professional, etc.) Be sure to have all your key utility contact details and ensure your staff know the locations of key shut offs. You should be able to access this information easily if flood water enters your building, so you can protect your operations and clean up the damage a quickly as possible. Failure to eliminate standing floodwater and dry out your building’s structure and materials as quickly as you can, could result in additional damage, lost operation time, and mold growth. 

Getting your own plan together can help prevent you from being one of the 50% of businesses that do not reopen after some sort of storm disaster. If you need assistance putting a plan together, we can assist you with our emergency ready profile. This is a no cost assessment that will walk you through all of these steps and help make it easier for you to put a plan together.  You will receive a hard copy and online access as well as be able to download it within your app store so you can have it with you at all times. For more information, you can contact Barb Rapoza at [email protected] or Holly Merrill at [email protected].