[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Schedule a Visit

Nulla vehicula fermentum nulla, a lobortis nisl vestibulum vel. Phasellus eget velit at.

Call us:
1-800-123-4567

Send an email:
monica.wayne@example.com

August 23, 2022 at 8:00 am · · Comments Off on MEREDA’s “Morning Menu” Breakfast Series Returns on September 15th

MEREDA’s “Morning Menu” Breakfast Series Returns on September 15th

MEREDA’s Morning Menu – The Initiative for Digital Engineering and Life Sciences (IDEALS): Portland’s New Roux Campus and the Effect on Maine Real Estate

The Roux Campus of Northeastern University is replacing the industrialized B&M Baked Bean site with a high tech hub for education and innovation in the fields of artificial intelligence, digital engineering, life sciences, and medicine. Charles E. Hewett, Ph.D., Executive Director of both the Institute for Digital Engineering and Life Sciences (IDEALS) and the Roux Family Foundation, will discuss his plans for this game-changing campus on the Portland Waterfront.

The world is being radically transformed by artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies. In 2020, Northeastern launched the Roux Institute to build expertise at the intersection of humans and machines. The institute offers graduate education and research capabilities in areas that will revolutionize life and work: AI, computer and data sciences, digital engineering, and the advanced life sciences and medicine. Many community leaders expect the new Roux Institute, with its prominent new location, to transform the Portland economy, and take us into a new stage of growth and economic development.

MEREDA Board Member, and attorney at Bernstein Shur, David Soley, will moderate this discussion.

Make plans to join us on September 15th to learn more about this exciting new development. To register and for more information, click here:

August 16, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Riverdam (Biddeford)

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Riverdam (Biddeford)

Each year, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) recognizes some of the state’s most “noteworthy and significant” real estate projects, completed in the previous year. The exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2021, not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to Maine’s economic growth by significant investment of resources and job creation statewide.

This year, MEREDA honored projects from Portland to Biddeford to Bangor, with each receiving special recognition at MEREDA’s 2022 Spring Conference on May 24th.

In a 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.

MEREDA’s 2021 Top 7 recipients include:

Harold Alfond Hall, Husson University (Bangor)
Harnois & Emery Apartments, Westbrook Housing, Westbrook Development Corporation, and Anew Development (Westbrook)
Thornton Heights Commons, South Portland Housing Development Corporation (South Portland)
Riverdam Mill Complex, Port Property (Biddeford)
40 Free Street, JB Brown & Sons & Ryan Senatore Architecture, (Portland)
Deering Place, Zachau Construction & Avesta Housing, (Portland)
Children’s Museum + Theatre Maine, Zachau Construction (Portland)

Please join us this week in celebrating Riverdam.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Riverdam: Riverdam consists of two 19th century industrial buildings, nestled along the banks of the Saco River in Biddeford’s vibrant and evolving Mill District. Built in 1842 to produce machinery for the area’s booming textile industry, the historic Riverdam Mill Complex had been mostly underutilized and vacant but for two commercial tenants in recent years. This renovation project revitalized the Riverdam Mill Complex into the distinguished living community it is today. Riverdam is now fully leased and features 71 modern units and a variety of local commercial tenants, including restaurant and brewery, Blaze Brewing Co. and wellness co-op space, ToGather.

Throughout the project, it was of the utmost importance to honor the rich history of the buildings and preserve the intricate details of each space. Exposed brick, beams, and high ceilings were combined with elevated community amenities – including a state-of-the-art fitness center, rooftop space, and resident lounge – to create a distinctive and desirable live-work-play environment right on the Saco River.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?  

Riverdam:  Built to accommodate the heightened demand of Biddeford’s housing market, Riverdam aimed to create much needed housing while fostering community connections within downtown Biddeford. The purchase and redevelopment of the Riverdam Mill Complex contributes to the City of Biddeford’s planned growth of downtown’s historic Mill District.

A primary goal throughout the project was to preserve the authentic characteristics of a 19th century industrial building while offering amenities unmatched in the area – including the uniqueness and individuality of each floorplan within the Riverdam community. Each Riverdam unit showcases an entirely unique floorplan, leveraging the building’s historic features and thoughtful preservation process.

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

Riverdam:  The planning stages of this project took about 8 months to complete. Both mill properties were purchased in 2019, with the first phase of construction beginning in early 2020. Our A&D team worked hand-in-hand with our in-house construction team to create floorplans that both embraced and enhanced the characteristics of Riverdam’s “industrial contemporary” design. In 2021, we officially capped off construction on our last round of one-bedrooms and completed final touches to our amenity spaces.

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

Riverdam:  As the Riverdam Mill Complex is a historic property, it did not come without surprises or challenges! During renovations, the interiors of both buildings were fully gutted. We preserved the site’s original brick, beams, and oversized mill windows for reinstallation.

Although challenging, historic rehabilitation projects are always incredibly gratifying as they breathe new life into an underused building and can revitalize the surrounding area. One of the major challenges was a structural issue within Building 3. A 2,000 square-foot area of the masonry wall was compromised, requiring careful attention. This back corner was ultimately reconstructed into a riverfront easement that allowed for the expansion of the RiverWalk – a walking bridge and trail which offers pedestrian access to the Saco River.

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

Riverdam:  The impact of collaboration. From the performance of our construction team to the vision of our architecture and design teams, the level of collaboration and quality was at a level higher than we could’ve ever hoped for. One of the most impactful and mutually beneficial elements of collaboration was between our team and the City of Biddeford. Stemming from the structural challenges at Building 3, the City of Biddeford provided financing for the project in exchange for our team’s assistance in expanding the RiverWalk and creating ADA access via an elevator. This was a true win-win situation, as it created an even closer partnership with the City of Biddeford and enabled us to prioritize the surrounding community.

Riverdam highlights the positive impact of a community effort – offering vital housing for the City’s growing population while fostering a riverside destination for neighbors, residents, and patrons within the Biddeford-Saco area and beyond.

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

Riverdam:  It’s hard to pick just one! From the individual floorplans to the historic features to its scenic location, Riverdam is truly unique. Riverdam’s setting may be its most notable feature, as this applies to its geographic location along the Saco River as well as its setting within the Biddeford-Saco community and the nearby RiverWalk.

Riverdam sits directly on the river’s edge overlooking a series of waterfalls. Our direct access to the RiverWalk opens up the community to not only our residents, but to all visitors and neighbors of Biddeford. We’re proud to put forth such a distinct community and to play a role in Biddeford’s economic, culinary and cultural renaissance.

August 9, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on Highlighting the Construction Component of the 2022 MEREDA Index

Highlighting the Construction Component of the 2022 MEREDA Index

On May 24, Shannon Richards, Founder of Hay Runner, was a commentator for the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA’s) 2022 MEREDA Index. Shannon’s comments on the Commercial Sector follow Economist Charles Colgan’s analysis for 2021. 

The MEREDA Index is a measure of real estate activity designed to track changes in Maine’s real estate markets. The Index is a composite of nine seasonally adjusted measures reflecting both new development and transactions involving existing properties and it covers both the commercial and residential markets statewide. The most recent edition covers the year 2020 and provides commentary on the Commercial, Residential, and Construction sectors. The MEREDA Index for 2021 is 116.3

THE CONSTRUCTION COMPONENT:  96.3

[Charles Colgan Analysis] “The Construction Employment Index was up 0.8% in 2021 over 2020. The seasonally adjusted index was strongest in the second and third quarter, but employment tailed off in the first and fourth quarters. The large volume of commercial transactions and growth in square feet together with growth in residential permits should probably have resulted in more of an increase in construction employment than was actually observed. The rather modest increase very likely reflected the overall labor shortages that characterized the economy throughout 2021.”

[Shannon Richards, Founder, Hay Runner]  “I picture construction’s share of the Maine economy like a huge sound system – the volume cranked up too high and base thumping hard…exciting and energizing, but after a while it feels like we need to dial it back a bit. The pressure is high and not letting up. Here’s why:

The construction market in Maine crosses many sectors – industrial, commercial, retail, and residential. While a little different for each, one thing remains constant: more than enough work, not enough bodies. Baby-boomers are retiring in droves, and news flash – there are not enough Gen-Xers to take over. Millennials are starting to fill the gaps, but experience is a desirable and uncommon differentiator. These labor shortages are a critical factor in the success of our construction businesses, and the economy overall. Right now it’s putting a major restriction on how much and how fast we can build… and, trust me, there is a waiting list.

I see three other factors driving the construction market and adding to the pressure: cash, remote work, and home improvement. With lots of available cash and rates still low, money is looking for places to diversify and return to investors. This is helpful to commercial and industrial locations… heck, even hotels are bouncing back. Covid may have shaken the tree and helped solidify areas of opportunity. Next, remote workers ‘from away’ are relocating to ‘Vacationland’ and turning it into ‘Staycationland.’ When they come, they bring their salaries and sometimes their businesses. Lastly, Mainers of all types have been on lockdown and want to improve or expand their homes. The trend I have seen is clients are saving more and their spending habits have changed. Family life has changed, too, thanks to the ‘work from home’ model…and oh, yeah, many had ‘kids at school’ working next to them so they desperately needed more space.

Focusing on 2021 residential construction, activity was strong despite Covid – especially along the coast. The aging housing stock in Maine means most existing housing needs to be renovated and many homeowners lack the experience or desire to work on their homes themselves. With a critically low supply of housing and the federal infrastructure stimulus coming, we may see more people settle here, which will only increase the pressure to build new or improved homes. A state with such a modest population is bound to feel changes like this across the board and it’s likely this uncomfortable transition will take years to play out.”

 

August 2, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on Highlighting the Residential Component of the 2022 MEREDA Index

Highlighting the Residential Component of the 2022 MEREDA Index

On May 24, Dan Brennan, Director of MaineHousing, was a commentator for the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA’s) 2022 MEREDA Index. Dan’s comments on the Residential Sector follow Economist Charles Colgan’s analysis for 2021. 

The MEREDA Index is a measure of real estate activity designed to track changes in Maine’s real estate markets. The Index is a composite of nine seasonally adjusted measures reflecting both new development and transactions involving existing properties and it covers both the commercial and residential markets statewide. The most recent edition covers the year 2020 and provides commentary on the Commercial, Residential, and Construction sectors. The MEREDA Index for 2021 is 116.3

THE RESIDENTIAL COMPONENT:  120.8

[Charles Colgan Analysis] “All components of the residential Index showed growth in 2021 over 2020. Existing unit sales and mortgage  Originations grew by about 5% each, but demand clearly exceeded supply in the residential market because the median price index grew by over 14%. The median price for residential sales hit an all-time high of $303,000 in the third quarter. With an Index value over 150 in the second half of the year the median home price in Maine has grown by more than 50% since 2006. This high price probably suppressed sales of existing units to some extent, but it definitely had an effect on housing construction. The index for residential permits grew by 24% over 2020.”

[Dan Brennan, Director of MaineHousing]  “Buying a house in Maine has never been harder. Home prices are soaring, and demand is at a peak. Unfortunately, this red-hot residential marketplace is leaving more and more Mainers out of the equation.That’s why affordable housing in Maine remains an important topic.

Creating enough housing to fill the ever-growing demand has never been more challenging than over the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. We also have never had a greater opportunity to make large gains in boosting our total housing inventory, thanks in large part to the support coming from both Augusta and Washington, D.C., as well as our municipal partners in places like Old Orchard Beach and Auburn. While the challenges are many, the future also looks promising with so many new projects on the horizon.

MaineHousing, along with partners across the affordable housing landscape, broke development records in 2021 and currently has the largest pipeline in our history. 524 new rental units were put online, creating more housing for families, older adults, the disabled, and those needing extra support. This represents a $121 million investment that is fueling economies from Belfast to Biddeford. Many of those new units have been opened in Maine’s larger service-center communities of Bangor and Portland, where the housing shortage has driven rents and home prices to astronomical levels.

MaineHousing staff, the construction community, and our development partners – both public and private – have adapted well to the challenges presented by ongoing supply chain and labor constraints. From advances in energy efficiency technologies to fast-tracked zoning changes, we have found innovative solutions that are helping us continue to produce units in these difficult times.

As we saw skyrocketing sales prices and an ongoing inventory shortage in 2021, our single family First Home mortgage products trailed off slightly. That said, we maintained record-low interest rates, below three percent, while issuing 725 new First Home mortgages totaling over $114 million. Most of those mortgages also qualified for our Advantage Program, providing eligible borrowers with a $3,500 grant for down payment and closing costs. That program alone provided $2 million in home buying assistance to 97 percent of those approved for First Home mortgages. While the market remains very challenging, we are optimistic we will eclipse our 2021 production numbers in 2022 allowing even more Maine
families to build equity in a home they own.”

July 19, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Thornton Heights Commons (South Portland)

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Thornton Heights Commons (South Portland)

Each year, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) recognizes some of the state’s most “noteworthy and significant” real estate projects, completed in the previous year. The exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2021, not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to Maine’s economic growth by significant investment of resources and job creation statewide.

This year, MEREDA honored projects from Portland to Biddeford to Bangor, with each receiving special recognition at MEREDA’s 2022 Spring Conference on May 24th.

In a 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.

MEREDA’s 2021 Top 7 recipients include:

Harold Alfond Hall, Husson University (Bangor)
Harnois & Emery Apartments, Westbrook Housing, Westbrook Development Corporation, and Anew Development (Westbrook)
Thornton Heights Commons, South Portland Housing Development Corporation (South Portland)
Riverdam Mill Complex, Port Property (Biddeford)
40 Free Street, JB Brown & Sons & Ryan Senatore Architecture, (Portland)
Deering Place, Zachau Construction & Avesta Housing, (Portland)
Children’s Museum + Theatre Maine, Zachau Construction (Portland)

Please join us this week in celebrating Thornton Heights Commons.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Thornton Heights Commons:  Thornton Heights Commons is a new four-story mixed-use affordable housing and commercial building, with associated parking, community open space and three new single-family house lots located at 611 Main Street in South Portland. The residential portion of the building is comprised of 42 apartments and community amenities. The commercial portion of the building includes 7,000 s.f. of dividable space, an outdoor seating area located along Main Street, and a satellite police station. In addition, the property includes a neighborhood open space, community garden, and three new single-family house lots.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?  

Thornton Heights Commons:  The South Portland Housing Development Corporation (SPHDC) adopted a new strategic plan in 2016 that called for the organization to increase the development of new affordable housing. In response to these goals, the SPHDC identified the 611 Main Street property as an ideal development site for a mixed-use affordable housing development. In addition to the site’s advantageous location and properties, the project would build upon the City of South Portland’s efforts to revitalize the Main Street corridor in Thornton Heights. The City has installed new sidewalks, traffic calming, landscaping, and ornamental lighting. This new infrastructure laid the groundwork upon which Thornton Heights Commons will contribute to the revitalization of the neighborhood.

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

Thornton Heights Commons:  The planning stages started in the fall of 2017 and completed with the start of construction in the summer of 2020.

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

Thornton Heights Commons:  The most challenging aspect of completing Thornton Heights Commons was overcoming the NIMBY response to the proposal. Like many multifamily, and affordable housing, developments in the State, Thornton Heights Commons needed a zoning change to increase the allowed residential density.

While the site fronts on US Route 1, the rear portion of the property abuts a neighborhood of single-family and duplex homes. Anticipating that there would be opposition, the SPHDC planned an extensive neighborhood involved process that was intentionally open-ended in terms of time and design outcomes. In sum, the project would not progress to the zoning application stage until collecting all neighborhood input and exploring all design avenues.

In addition to the design team, SPHDC hired a professional facilitator to moderate the neighborhood meetings. The facilitator created a meeting environmental in which all parties felt comfortable expressing their opinions. Too often, opponents to a development speak the loudest and this intimidates and shuts out supporter input. The facilitator also promoted constructive input that resulted in multiple design iterations and a final design that formed the basis for what was ultimately constructed. The SPHDC also held site visits to existing properties to show the organization’s high level of management and maintenance. Finally, SPHDC help property tours and discussions with City Councilors to relay the project’s positive potential for housing and neighborhood revitalization.

The result was that during the City Council rezoning hearings the SPHDC was able to speak to the extensive public design process and the benefits to of the project. Equally as important, the Council received testimony both against and for the project from neighborhood and City residents. Without this balanced testimony, the project would not have moved forward.

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

Thornton Heights Commons:  The project site housed an existing religious campus that included a very large church structure and a school/office/monastery building that contained hazardous substances and thus represented significant costs to redevelopment. The SPHDC, with the assistance of Credere Associates of Westbrook, ME, the Greater Portland Council of Governments Brownfields Assessment Program, the City of South Portland’s CDBG program, the Maine DEP and US EPA, put together $800,000 in funding to convert this blighted and contaminated property into a redevelopment site. What was unexpected was how eager and capable all of these agencies were in providing expertise and funding to turn properties into sites of new investment for public benefit.

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

Thornton Heights Commons:  The most notable feature is the building’s mix of residential, commercial and public uses. Mixed-use development is touted by public policy, planning and smart growth advocates for its positive social and environmental benefits. However, it is very difficult to develop and adds significant complexity to any development project. SPHDC has put a significant amount of time and resources into developing Thornton Heights Commons as a first-rate mixed-use project that will benefit its residents, the neighborhood and the City of South Portland. We are very proud of the project.

July 13, 2022 at 10:05 am · · Comments Off on MEREDA Appoints Committee Co-Chairs

MEREDA Appoints Committee Co-Chairs

PORTLAND, July 13, 2022 – The Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) is pleased to announce two additional appointments of committee co-chairs.

Participation on any one of MEREDA’s five standing committees gives members an opportunity to raise their profile within Maine’s real estate community, and help the association meet its goals. Committee work allows members to play an active role in the association’s affairs and all members are encouraged to participate. We are happy to announce the appointments of two additional committee co-chairs.

Scarborough resident, Shawn McKenna, Vice President of Commercial Banking at Bangor Savings Bank, will fill the role of Co-Chair of MEREDA’s Membership & Marketing Committee.

In his role as senior commercial relationship manager, Shawn is a creative individual that is eager to thoroughly understand any idea, product, or concept. During his 20+ years with Bangor Savings Bank, he has held roles as a commercial underwriter, real estate appraisal review specialist, and commercial portfolio manager. Shawn’s interest in solving problems, conceiving new concepts, and understanding a borrower’s needs comes in handy when working with a multitude of commercial banking clients. Outside of the office, Shawn is an avid automobile and outdoor enthusiast that enjoys travel and spending time with his wife Traci as well as their two French bulldogs, Boston and Una. Shawn has been a volunteer on MEREDA’s Marketing and Membership Committee since 2017 and was elected to the MEREDA Board of Directors in July 2018.

“Shawn has been an invaluable addition to our volunteer board and committee,” says Shelly R. Clark, Executive Director of MEREDA. “Having Shawn step into the Co-Chair role will only strengthen the committee and its important work.”

Additionally, Attorney Jason G. Howe of Gorham has been named co-Chair of MEREDA’s Public Policy Committee. Jason is an equity partner at Preti Flaherty, where he serves as co-chair of the firm’s Real Estate and Finance Practice Group.

Jason represents clients locally, regionally, and nationally on matters relating to real estate development, corporate restructuring, business acquisitions, private equity investments, and complex commercial leasing – including a specialty in logistics, warehousing, and 3PL facilities. Jason also represents both lenders and private equity groups in financing commercial real estate development and various hospitality concerns. He provides full lifecycle guidance for businesses from strategic start-up structuring and initial investment, to credit facility, acquisition growth, and ultimate sale.

Jason is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law, where he served as president of the Student Bar Association and as articles editor for the Maine Law Review. Prior to joining Preti Flaherty, Jason was an equity partner at a mid-sized firm in southern Maine.

MEREDA’s active Public Policy Committee meets regularly during each legislative session reviewing pending bills and regulations, identifying those of interest to the membership, and works to ensure the real estate industry’s concerns are considered. The committee works to influence and shape the final form of proposed laws and regulations, and initiates new ones when circumstances warrant. MEREDA’s Public Policy Committee Chair, Paul Peck of Drummond & Drummond says, “Jason has been a valuable member of MEREDA’s public policy committee. He brings a strong and diverse background on a variety of development matters to the committee. We look forward to working and collaborating with him on behalf of MEREDA’s members on the various legislative and regulatory issues that the committee addresses”.

For further information, please contact MEREDA’s Executive Director, Shelly R. Clark at 207-874-0801 or visit www.mereda.org.

July 12, 2022 at 9:33 am · · Comments Off on MEREDA Names New President and Announces 22-23 Officers

MEREDA Names New President and Announces 22-23 Officers

Scarborough resident Craig Young, CCIM, Partner & Sr. Broker at The Boulos Company is the new president of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), a statewide organization of commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers. Founded in 1985, MEREDA promotes responsible development and ownership of real estate in Maine through legislative advocacy, educational programs and professional networking opportunities.

Craig is a Partner and Senior Broker at The Boulos Company, a commercial real estate firm that blends Maine and New Hampshire market knowledge with a global network and is dedicated to serving owners, investors, and tenants. Joining the company in 1987, he takes the time to intimately understand his clients’ internal goals and processes to be their best advocate. His supportive approach successfully guides clients through even the most complex real estate deals.

Craig joined the MEREDA Board of Directors in 2015, becoming a vice president in 2020, as well as co-chair of its Conference Committee. In 2022, Craig was selected to receive MEREDA’s Volunteer of the Year Award for his work in 2021. The Volunteer of the Year Award is awarded to those who are actively engaged and generously share their time, talents, and energy with MEREDA. His leadership was especially appreciated while we navigated the coronavirus pandemic.

Craig succeeds Josh Fifield, Vice President, Senior Account Executive at Clark Insurance, who has led MEREDA for the past two years. “Josh’s stewardship during the COVID pandemic is unprecedented for our organization. Josh’s enthusiasm and steady hand guided the organization as it continued to offer social networking events, growth in membership and financial stability,” said Young. “I welcome the opportunity to guide MEREDA through these continuing challenging times while we pursue real estate advocacy through local and State public policy, networking opportunities and advocacy for our members.”

MEREDA also announced its 2022 / 2023 slate of officers which include President Craig Young of The Boulos Company, Vice Presidents Shannon Richards of Hay Runner, Gary Vogel of Drummond Woodsum, and Jennifer Small of Malone Commercial Brokers, Treasurer Mark Stasium of Camden National Bank, and Secretary Shelly R. Clark, who also serves full time as MEREDA’s Executive Director.

 

July 11, 2022 at 10:11 am · · Comments Off on MEREDA Announces Local Issues Committee Co-Chair

MEREDA Announces Local Issues Committee Co-Chair

John Finegan of South Portland, an Associate Broker at The Boulos Company, has been named Co-Chair of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA’s) Local Issues Committee.

At The Boulos Company, John works on the brokerage team of Drew Sigfridson, SIOR and Jessica Estes. He works in leasing and sales of Commercial Real Estate in Southern Maine with a particular focus on multifamily. Prior to joining Boulos, John spent four years at SynQor, Inc., a defense contractor based in Massachusetts, as a Regional Sales Manager covering Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Benelux and the UK.

John graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of New Hampshire in 2014 with BS degrees in Finance and Accounting. In his free time, John likes to ski, run, and spend time in the gym. John was born in North Yarmouth, Maine and attended high school at North Yarmouth Academy. He now lives in South Portland with his girlfriend, Elizabeth.

MEREDA’s active Local Issues Committee was created in 2019 to monitor and timely engage on local land use and development matters. The Committee has a two-fold mission: to develop and deploy a proactive educational initiative designed to inform developers across Maine in best practices and tools to minimize local resistance to a real estate development project; and to react to issues that rise to a level of concern that warrant the engagement of MEREDA to influence the outcome of such an issue in a manner that is favorable to MEREDA.

John will co-chair the Local Issues Committee with Tom Schoening of Drummond & Drummond who has chaired the committee since its inception. MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark says, “John is a valuable member of the Local Issues Committee. He brings a strong and diverse background, and we look forward to working and collaborating with him on behalf of MEREDA’s members on the various issues that the committee addresses”.

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

July 5, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on Highlighting the Commercial Component of the 2022 MEREDA Index

Highlighting the Commercial Component of the 2022 MEREDA Index

On May 24, Katie Allen, a Broker at The Dunham Group, was a commentator for the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA’s) 2022 MEREDA Index. Katie’s comments on the Commercial Sector follow Economist Charles Colgan’s analysis for 2021. 

The MEREDA Index is a measure of real estate activity designed to track changes in Maine’s real estate markets. The Index is a composite of nine seasonally adjusted measures reflecting both new development and transactions involving existing properties and it covers both the commercial and residential markets statewide. The most recent edition covers the year 2020 and provides commentary on the Commercial, Residential, and Construction sectors. The MEREDA Index for 2021 is 116.3

THE COMMERCIAL COMPONENT:  116.7

[Charles Colgan Analysis] “Following little growth in 2020, the commercial Index grew overall by nearly 9%. The principal driver of the growth was a significant increase in lease and sales transactions. There were 575 commercial transactions in 2021 compared with 325 in 2020. Square footage sold and leased also increased by 1.6 million square feet. The rapid growth in supply was most likely a response to the abnormal conditions of 2020, but the supply growth was not met with comparable demand growth, resulting in both the per square foot sales and lease rate indexes to each decline by about 5%.”

[Katie Allen, Broker, The Dunham Group]  “Coming into 2021, we felt a sense of optimism that people would start coming back to the office. While this did happen on a small scale – predominantly in downtown offices – the Delta variant quickly changed people’s ‘back to work’ plans. Office tenants were all over the place and no one seemed to have an answer on how to effectively move forward. As a result of all this uncertainty, two major trends emerged. First, tenants with lease expirations in 2021 (or even later) whose employees could work from home, chose to abandon their space altogether. Second, tenants chose very short-term renewals as a way to kick the can down the road. Most landlords accepted these renewals, often on less than favorable terms, in order to keep vacancy down and to get a shot at future renewals. In my opinion, because of this, the real impact of Covid on the office market has yet to be seen.

In direct contrast, the investment market thrived in 2021 where the overriding theme was lack of inventory. Quality, well-priced investment properties almost never made it to market, but were sent directly from brokers to the ever-widening pool of eager investors. Cap rates at or below 6%-7% became the norm, especially for larger apartment complex sales, and 1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges remained a driving factor in the strength of the market.

Hands down, the shining star of the 2021 commercial market was the industrial sector. With a vacancy rate of less than 2%, every aspect of the industrial market seemed to flourish. Rental rates were up, sale of owner/user properties and industrial investment grade properties set record $/SF sale prices. Even with an influx of new inventory from The Downs in Scarborough, the industrial sector managed to surpass everyone’s expectations and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The retail sector was a bit of a surprise. While we saw some bigger vacancies in the suburban market, we didn’t see the panic we expected from Covid. The downtown Portland market sadly lost several restaurants and retailers, but it felt like just as a space would go vacant, someone was there to scoop it up. Tenants who have been trying for years to get into the Old Port now had the opportunity. Also, as Covid drove people out of bigger cities into Southern Maine, their ideas for new restaurants, boutiques, and specialty stores came along, too. Thankfully, it seems that neither online shopping, food delivery services, nor Covid can kill the bricks and mortar stores and restaurants we all love.”

 

June 21, 2022 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Harold Alfond Hall (Bangor)

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Harold Alfond Hall (Bangor)

Each year, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) recognizes some of the state’s most “noteworthy and significant” real estate projects, completed in the previous year. The exemplary projects from across the state, completed in 2021, not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to Maine’s economic growth by significant investment of resources and job creation statewide.

This year, MEREDA honored projects from Portland to Biddeford to Bangor, with each receiving special recognition at MEREDA’s 2022 Spring Conference on May 24th.

In a 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.

MEREDA’s 2021 Top 7 recipients include:

Harold Alfond Hall, Husson University (Bangor)
Harnois & Emery Apartments, Westbrook Housing, Westbrook Development Corporation, and Anew Development (Westbrook)
Thornton Heights Commons, South Portland Housing Development Corporation (South Portland)
Riverdam Mill Complex, Port Property (Biddeford)
40 Free Street, JB Brown & Sons & Ryan Senatore Architecture, (Portland)
Deering Place, Zachau Construction & Avesta Housing, (Portland)
Children’s Museum + Theatre Maine, Zachau Construction (Portland)

Please join us this week in celebrating Harold Alfond Hall.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Husson University:  Husson University’s Harold Alfond Hall is a $17.2 million, 42,000 square foot state-of-the-art, multi-purpose building. It serves an array of students, faculty, and external organizations. The building is a beautiful facility that’s designed to accommodate growth. It contains leading-edge technologies and advancements designed to foster student engagement and experiential learning. The facility also serves as a center for collaborative interactions with Maine’s business community. With a light and airy atmosphere that ties into its native surroundings, the building provides copious amounts of natural light. This has made Harold Alfond Hall an uplifting space that’s conducive to learning. The project was made possible through donations from generous donors who believe in and support the University’s mission.

Providing traditional classes and regional workforce development, this educational facility serves both students and the community. Classrooms are fully equipped to provide agile workshops where Maine entrepreneurs, students, faculty, and industry experts can create and collaborate. The building includes state-of-the-art audio visual systems, advanced acoustic control, an extended reality center, a financial center, flexible workspaces providing virtually unlimited opportunities for collaborative and “hands-on” experiential learning, and a forensic science lab used for the analysis of crime scene evidence.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?  

Husson University:  Tracing its origins back to the Shaw Business College and School of Penmanship in 1898, Husson’s College of Business has grown to be the largest school of its kind in Maine. More students choose to get a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Husson University than any other college or University in the state. The University began monitoring education growth trends more than ten years the building was commissioned. Projections showed a clear need for this facility in order to accommodate the University’s growing demand for physical space. The building is also helping Husson to fulfill its mission and implement advancements in pedagogy, technology and innovation.

Now completed, this facility represents a major milestone in the progression of professional education at Husson University. In addition to student engagement and experiential learning, Harold Alfond Hall facilitates collaborative interactions with the faculty, students and Maine’s business community. Equipped with advanced technology, the building strengthens the University’s ability to work with students and other constituents in remote locations. It also enhances the University’s ability to provide the skilled and talented workforce Maine needs to compete in today’s global economy. Harold Alfond Hall represents years of meticulous planning, extensive private fundraising, and careful execution.

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

Husson University:  Significant effort went into the planning stages of this project. After its original concepts were outlined, Husson University spent years considering revisions and new ideas. Initial preliminary design sketches date back to 2012. Over the next several years, concepts were developed and evaluated collaboratively by a variety of stakeholders in an effort to design a futuristic building that could serve our academic mission well into the future. Efforts accelerated in 2017 when the Harold Alfond Foundation announced it would provide a one dollar match for every two dollars donated to Husson for this project, up to a total of $4 million. That same year, the University signed a contract that carried the project into the design development and detailed design phases. Construction began in the spring of 2020.

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

Husson University:  There were many challenges that arose during the design and construction of this building. At the onset, we engaged in a highly collaborative design process including: students, faculty, staff, architects, construction and design teams, our board of trustees, and various stakeholders. This input resulted in numerous design changes. Husson wanted to ensure that all voices were heard and all needs were captured within the design and function of this building.

Construction commenced shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The impact of COVID-19 on the project was extensive. It resulted in the issuance and enforcement of personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements and protocols to safeguard against spread of the coronavirus on the jobsite. Infections and work stoppages constantly rerouted our critical path forcing workarounds.

We encountered numerous labor and material shortages. Cost escalations forced us to continually change our plans to keep the project on track. We also incurred in-process design changes to improve our defenses against COVID-19 and future pandemics with enhancements such as touchless entries and fixtures as well as a hospital-grade air filtration system. In addition, the facility is designed to keep pace with the evolution of technology utilized by our advanced iEX center. Despite those challenges, the team brought the building in on schedule and under budget.

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

Husson University: This project has taught us the benefits and power of a collaborative design effort. As part of Husson’s meticulous, long-term planning process, the University was able to glean tremendous insights from students, faculty, staff, architects, construction managers, design teams, and our board of trustees. This input was integrated into the building’s design. The result was a world class educational facility. It’s exciting to see the completed facility in action as it provides an engaging and unique learning environment for our students. The extensive and collaborative design process and construction reflect the ideas everyone brought to the table.

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

Husson University:  The building’s expansive glass curtain wall and prominent location immediately draws one in upon entering campus. High-tech classrooms, a financial center, a crime scene lab, a forensics lab, computer lab, a world-class extended reality center, interactive work rooms, and numerous study spaces are all in support of what we consider to be the most notable aspect of this building – its ability to positively impact the role Husson plays in transforming students’ lives.