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Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall listening in on a conversation between Maine’s real estate industry leaders? You’re in luck – MEREDA now has a podcast: MEREDA Matters! This is not your typical Q&A session. This is a podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine. It’s dynamic and we don’t know where each conversation will go, but with MEREDA President Craig Young and other MEREDA members leading the conversation, you’re sure to learn something new each episode. MEREDA Matters gives you insider conversations that highlight the people, stories, and relationships behind the real estate and development deals in Maine. Listen to a new conversation each month!
“I’ve been a part of MEREDA for years, and what has always stood out to me is the people. At every MEREDA event, I always have a great conversation with someone. The MEREDA Matters podcast is about sharing those great, insider conversations. We rub elbows with these folks professionally, but what makes them excited to get up in the morning? What are they putting in their coffee? What matters most to them? Let’s get into it together!”
Craig Young, MEREDA President
Release Date February 6
A Thoughtful Conversation with Rebecca Hatfield, President & CEO of Avesta Housing, and Ed Gardner, Broker/Owner of Gardner Real Estate Group
Rebecca Hatfield, President & CEO of Avesta Housing, and Ed Gardner Broker/Owner of Gardner Real Estate Group, sit down with MEREDA President Craig Young and MEREDA Vice President Shannon Richards for the fourteenth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine.
The group delves into an important topic: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and discusses what it means to them personally and professionally. Hatfield talks about her goal to lead by example and her efforts to make DEI a fundamental part of the culture at Avesta by meeting people where they are at. She also shares some of the challenges in the affordable housing world, such as Avesta receiving 9,000 applications for 350 available apartments. Gardner discusses his work with the Equality Community Center (ECC) and plans to create 54 affordable housing units for the 55+ community in the same building as ECC, an $18 million project they hope to break ground on this summer.
The group goes on to discuss the complexities around financing affordable housing and what diversity looks like in Maine, both in the Greater Portland region and in rural areas. Gardner talks about what it was like for him to come out at age 15 as well as how he bought his first building in Portland at the age of 17. Hatfield also shares some of her personal experiences with discrimination, including when she was called names on the playground at five years old, and how she received hate letters recently after Avesta provided housing for new immigrants. The group goes on to look at some recent positive changes in Maine and what resources exist for people who would like to learn more about DEI.
Where is Rebecca Hatfield and Ed Gardner’s favorite place to grab a bite to eat? Listen to the episode to find out!
Release Date January 9
A Conversation with Jeanne Hulit of Maine Community Bank and Steve deCastro of Gorham Savings Bank
Jeanne Hulit, President and CEO of Maine Community Bank, and Steve deCastro, President and CEO of Gorham Savings Bank, sit down with MEREDA Board Member Josh Soley for the thirteenth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine.
Hulit and deCastro share how the recent merger of Gorham Savings Bank and Maine Community Bank came together – an 18 month process that has resulted in a win-win for both banks. The group discusses some of the barriers to the merger process, the succession planning they have in place for bank leadership, and their focus on communication as a key strategy. Zooming in and sharing more details, Hulit and deCatstro review some of the opportunities for pricing synergies in the merger, such as how much the bank will need to spend on technology investments.
The group goes on to talk about the difference between mutual savings banks and stock banks, as well as some of their predictions for the economy in 2024. Hulit and deCastro also share a bit about their backgrounds and the paths that led both of them to the role of CEO.
Release Date December 5
A Conversation with Tom Watson and John Laliberte of Reveler Development.
Tom Watson, Founder of Reveler Development and John Laliberte, CEO of Reveler Development, sit down with MEREDA President Craig Young for the twelfth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine. Watson shares how he got his start in real estate development with a four-unit building and talks about why, after earning degrees from Stanford and Boston University, he chose to be a sheetrocker in Boston. Watson goes on to discuss how buying The Metropolitan in downtown Portland in the late nineties was a turning point in his career, marking a shift into managing bigger buildings. Laliberte discusses his career trajectory as well, from professional hockey player to real estate, and talks about the Riverdam project, his first project with Watson.
The group goes on to talk about the evolution of Biddeford, how close to 50% of people renting their units are from out of state, and how renters are hungry for amenities in their buildings. Watson and Laliberte also share what is happening in the first phase of their West Bayside development project, which includes 201 affordable housing units.
What is Tom Watson’s favorite vacation spot? Listen to the episode to find out!
Release Date November 14
A Legislative Update on Housing with Senator Matt Pouliot and Representative Traci Gere
Maine Senator Matt Pouliot of Augusta and House Representative Traci Gere of Kennebunk sit down with MEREDA President Craig Young and Pierce Atwood attorney and government relations’ advocate Elizabeth Frazier for the eleventh episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine.
Both Senator Pouliot and Representative Gere serve on the Joint Select Committee on Housing. They provide an overview of the history and focus of the committee and discuss Maine’s dire need for housing – the state needs some 80,000 new units to be built in the next seven to ten years. The group discusses some of the solutions the Joint Select Committee is working on to reduce the barriers to housing creation and democratize development, such as a government program to map out sewer and water lines in the state, investment in training programs for the trades, and a bill to establish a process to vest rights for land use permits.
The conversation also includes an exploration of other creative ideas that will support the housing industry, including a program to identify vacant properties in the state and partnerships with the forest products industry to make innovative materials for building.
What are Senator Pouliot and Representative Gere’s favorite restaurants? Listen to the episode to find out!
An Economic Outlook with Ken Entenmann, Chief Economist at NBT Bank
Ken Entenmann, Senior Vice President, Chief Investment Office and Chief Economist at NBT Bank, sits down with MEREDA President Craig Young and Senior Director of Affordable Housing at NBT Bank Kim Twitchell (formerly Maine Regional President of NBT Bank) for the tenth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine. The conversation begins with Entenmann sharing his career path and why he loves economics. The group then delves into a discussion on the resiliency of the U.S. economy and the important factors impacting the global economy right now such as inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic. Entenmann also includes his perspective on the effect of renewable energy for energy prices. The discussion continues as the group looks at how the office market has been faring, both nationally and in Southern Maine. Entenmann shares his thoughts on whether there is a housing bubble, if current interest rates are the new normal, and whether he sees a recession on the horizon.
What books do Ken and Kim love to recommend? Listen to the episode to find out!
New Trends in Housing Design: A Conversation with Ryan Senatore, AIA LEED AP, & Will Savage, P.E.
Will Savage, President of Acorn Engineering and Ryan Senatore, Principal of Ryan Senatore Architecture, sit down with MEREDA Vice President Shannon Richards and MEREDA President Craig Young for the ninth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine. Frequent collaborators, Savage and Senatore discuss some of the high-profile projects they are working on throughout the state, including Maine’s tallest building at 201 Federal Street. The group explores new design trends in housing such as smaller unit sizes, enticing common spaces, and desirable building amenities. Savage and Senatore also talk about their collaborative design process and share their approach to incorporating affordable housing units and energy efficiency into their buildings. The discussion on design continues as the group looks at how the recent rise of in-migration to Maine from larger cities has impacted housing and how the labor shortage has driven the use of different building materials.
What are Will and Ryan’s favorite spots in Maine to take a vacation? Listen to the episode to find out!
A Conversation with Josh Miranda, Owner of the Miranda Restaurant Group
Josh Miranda, Owner of Miranda Restaurant Group, sits down with MEREDA Board Member Josh Soley and MEREDA President Craig Young for the eighth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine. Miranda, a Portland-native, talks about how he got his start working in restaurants at age 14 and how he’s always been comfortable behind a bar.
After a successful career opening up bars and restaurants for other hospitality groups in other states, Miranda shares how he ventured into the Portland scene with immersive concepts for his own businesses and how he is driven by his desire to create spaces where people can escape and have an experience. The group discusses the origin stories of Miranda’s three current businesses, the talented team who are a part of his vision, and his approach to providing an opportunity for his staff to have a true work/life balance. With a new restaurant and bar set to open in the iconic Bull Feeney space this summer and another bar in the works, Miranda discusses his goals for the future.
Where is Josh Miranda’s favorite place to escape? Listen to the episode to find out!
A conversation with Sonja Trauss, YIMBY Activist and Responsible Housing Advocate
Sonja Trauss, Executive Director of Yes in My Back Yard (YIMBY), sits down with MEREDA Vice President Shannon Richards and MEREDA President Craig Young for the seventh episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine. Trauss lives in the Bay Area in California and shares her journey from high school math teacher to housing activist. What started as Trauss ranting with friends about the lack of housing in San Francisco evolved into two advocacy organizations, YIMBY and YIMBY law, with 18 employees and 43 chapters in 19 states. Trauss sees herself as an activist for the end user of housing developments – the housing consumer, and discusses her organizations’ approach to promoting housing creation with advocacy, organizing, and focused legal action that requires cities to honor their own existing zoning laws rather than create subjective barriers for housing creation. The group also discusses ways for people to get started as a housing activist such as the very effective action of calling elected officials and showing up to local planning board meetings to make a public comment in favor of housing.
Deirdre Wadsworth, President of Hardypond Construction, sits down with MEREDA Vice President Shannon Richards and MEREDA President Craig Young for the sixth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine. Wadsworth discusses the type of projects Hardypond specializes in, and how they are often completing renovations on buildings that are occupied. As one of three women in Maine to own a commercial construction company, Wadsworth talks about her journey from sweeping floors at the jobsite as a kid and hating construction to earning an MBA and taking over her dad’s company in her thirties. Wadsworth goes on to share her management style and how hiring a business coach was one of the best things she did when she decided she wanted to run Hardypond.
The group discusses the challenges in construction, such as material pricing and delays, and how this new norm requires a focus on scheduling and ordering materials upfront. The group also talks about how much has changed for women working in the industry over the last decade and why it’s so important to include women’s perspectives in development and construction.
What is one of the best books Deirdre has read recently? Listen to the conversation to find out! https://mereda-matters.simplecast.com/
Brit Vitalius, President of Rental Housing Alliance (RHA) and Principal at Vitalius Real Estate Group, and Jessica James, Principal at Longfellow Communications, sit down with MEREDA Board Member Gary Vogel and MEREDA President Craig Young for the fifth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine.
Vitalius and James discuss the RHA’s Rent Control Amendment, a grassroots effort to enact a critical change to Portland’s rent control that would allow landlords to reset the rent in vacant units to market rate. The pair discusses how the amendment, which is on the upcoming June 13th ballot, would have a significant positive impact on both existing tenants and rental housing providers. Vitalius shares the history of the Rent Control ordinance in Portland’s elections and outlines some of its unintended consequences. For example, since the ordinance passed in 2020, many tenants have seen more rent increases as landlords try to keep pace with the market. James discusses the issue of having voters trying to parse complex policy and the burden it places on rental housing providers. Vitalius explains how the Rent Control Amendment will maintain all the current protections for tenants and argues it is what’s best for housing development in Portland. The group discusses the problems with the referendum process in Portland and finishes the discussion by urging people to get out and vote on June 13th.
Is it Brit or Jessica who enjoys a dirty vodka martini at the end of a busy day? Listen to the conversation to find out! https://mereda-matters.simplecast.com/
Erin and Catherine sit down with MEREDA Vice President Shannon Richards and MEREDA President Craig Young for the fourth episode of MEREDA Matters – the podcast that puts you in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in Maine. As two successful women in development who, together, have brought over 1,000 housing units to market, Cooperrider and Culley share how they started working in development and their experience working in a male-dominated field. Culley shares how she went from flipping her own house to working on some of the most substantial projects in the state of Maine, with 500 units currently under construction. For Cooperrider, after earning her degree in journalism she ended up in the development world after moving to Maine, eventually serving as the Development Director for Community Housing of Maine for 17 years.
Both women talk about their ambition and what they feel women bring to the table in the development world. Discussing their joint venture, the transformation of Mercy Hospital’s State Street campus, Cooperrider and Culley share how the project came together and their take on the impact of the new Inclusionary Zoning mandate. Where is Catherine Culley and Erin Cooperrider’s favorite place to grab a bite to eat in Maine? Listen to the conversation to find out! https://mereda-matters.simplecast.com/