MEREDA’s “Morning Menu” Breakfast Event: How Should Portland Address its Workforce Housing Needs? What is the problem and is Inclusionary Zoning the right solution?

BreakfastLogoInclusionary Zoning is a policy that requires a certain percentage of units in any housing development over a certain size to be offered at affordable rates for median income households. Usually, Inclusionary Zoning is offered with a package of other incentives to offset the financial impact to developers and the occupants of the market rate units.

The City of Portland is proposing the adoption of Inclusionary Zoning with minor consideration of incentives to offset the impact. Without sufficient offsets, Inclusionary Zoning has the potential to reduce new housing supply. Other cities with Inclusionary Zoning have adopted offsetting incentives such as Tax Increment Financing Districts, height, density or other zoning bonuses, municipal bond financing, and allowing the required affordable units to be built off-site but elsewhere in the city.

Does Inclusionary Zoning address the root causes of high costs of housing such as high land costs, lack of available sites, cumbersome permitting processes and other burdens on economical development? Is it logical to predict that Inclusionary Zoning without offsetting incentives will stall and deter housing development in Portland? Is Inclusionary Zoning even with incentives the most effective policy to accomplish more median-income housing in Portland? Should we also consider other methods?

What exactly is the problem, and what are “right sized” solutions that will work best for all?

Please join the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) at its next “Morning Menu” breakfast event for an informative discussion of these questions and more on March 12 from 7:30 – 9:15 AM at the Portland Regency Hotel in Portland, ME.

Our Panelists include:

Caroline Paras, Economic and Community Planner, Greater Portland Council Of Governments – Author of “2030 Workforce Housing Demand”

Jeff Levine, City of Portland, Director of Planning & Urban Development Department

Jonathan Culley, Redfern Properties, Developer

Jim Brady, Local Real Estate Developer

Chris O’Neil, Portland City Hall Liaison, Portland Community Chamber

Our panel of experts will be moderated by Andrea Cianchette Maker, MEREDA Public Policy Counsel, and Partner and Chair of Government Relations Practice at Pierce Atwood.

For more information and to register, visit

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Maine Real Estate & Development Association Announces Date for its Annual Spring Networking Social

SocialGraphicAt this time of the year, who isn’t already thinking about Spring? Make plans now to join us on Portland’s Waterfront on March 26, 2015 from 5:00 – 7:00 PM at Ri Ra Irish Pub & Restaurant for MEREDA’s Spring Social!

MEREDA’s networking events attract key players in Maine’s real estate industry making this an excellent opportunity to interact with the experts. Join us and other Industry Professionals for Hors d’oeuvres, Spirits, and Great Conversation as we welcome Spring back to Maine!

Join us for a cocktail or two, and reconnect with colleagues and friends, both old and new!  This “can’t miss” event sells out every year, so sign up early!

To register or for more information, visit 

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Fires Spark Needed Landlord-Tenant Discussions

Tony Payne, Business Development Director, Clark Insurance 

The recent tragedies of lost lives in Portland and destroyed property in Biddeford due to fires have landlords and tenants talking about safety. The Southern Maine Landlord Association (SMLA) recently met in Portland to take a deeper dive into both building code standards required of landlords as well as tenants’ vigilance about safety in their rented apartments. In Northern New England, about half of all multi-unit dwellings are 50 years or older and require safety updates. So, what are the expectations of living safely in a multi-unit building?

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Maine Real Estate Industry Leaders Recognized at MEREDA’s 2015 Forecast Conference

A record of over 750 of Maine’s real estate professionals gathered recently to hear experts give statewide economic projections for 2015 at the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA)’s annual Forecast Conference, sponsored by TD Bank, in Portland.

In addition to a daylong event featuring economic overviews by region and by industry, the 2015 MEREDA Forecast Conference included an awards ceremony to recognize four outstanding industry professionals. With just one full-time staff person, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association depends heavily on the support of its members and volunteers. “The annual awards are a way for MEREDA to say thank you to some of the many people who have kept the organization so strong and vital,” said Michael O’Reilly, MEREDA President, as he announced the 2015 recipients.

From Left to Right – 2015 MEREDA Recognition Awards were presented by MEREDA Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark, and MEREDA President, Michael O’Reilly, to President’s Award recipient Gary Vogel of Drummond Woodsum, Volunteer of the Year award recipient Drew Sigfridson of CBRE | The Boulos Company, Robert B. Patterson, Jr. Founders’ Award recipient Jamie Whelan of Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, and Public Policy Award recipient Rick Stauffer of Preti Flaherty.

From Left to Right – 2015 MEREDA Recognition Awards were presented by MEREDA Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark, and MEREDA President, Michael O’Reilly, to President’s Award recipient Gary Vogel of Drummond Woodsum, Volunteer of the Year award recipient Drew Sigfridson of CBRE | The Boulos Company, Robert B. Patterson, Jr. Founders’ Award recipient Jamie Whelan of Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, and Public Policy Award recipient Rick Stauffer of Preti Flaherty.

This year’s Robert B. Patterson, Jr. Founders’ Awardwent to James Whelan of Scarborough, Saco and Biddeford Savings Institution. This award acknowledges members of MEREDA who have distinguished themselves by making significant contributions to the real estate industry over many years. Jamie was instrumental in the organization beginning to take on legislative issues, which were seen as impediments to responsible real estate development. He was a dedicated past President having served a 3-year term, rather than the customary 2-year term.

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has enthusiastically shares their time and energy working hard to support MEREDA and ensure the organization’s success. The 2015 Volunteer of the Year, Drew Sigfridson of Portland, CBRE | The Boulos Company, consistently goes above and beyond for MEREDA. During his time as MEREDA President, Drew spearheaded many initiatives, including a campaign to increase MEREDA’s media and public awareness, as well as orchestrating a new organizational plan, which allowed MEREDA to grow and become a greater voice in discussions about Maine’s economic development.

This year’s President’s Award was given to Gary Vogel of Yarmouth, Drummond Woodsum. This award acknowledges a member of MEREDA who has significantly stepped up to the plate on behalf of the organization over the past year. As chair of MEREDA’s legislative committee, Gary is a generous leader of the organization’s legislative agenda. His institutional knowledge and experience with MEREDA’s legislative history, combined with his knowledge of development challenges in Maine from his own law practice, provides MEREDA with a breadth and depth that benefits all MEREDA members.

The Public Policy Award is presented to a MEREDA member whose efforts have had a significant impact on public policy decisions for the benefit of responsible real estate development in Maine. The 2015 Public Policy Award recipient is Rick Stauffer of Portland, Preti Flaherty. Rick has been instrumental in MEREDA’s Legislative Affairs Committee over the past year. His active participation, offering his intellect and political strategy prowess, has not gone unrecognized. Rick also served on MEREDA’s Board of Directors for many years.

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MEREDA Elects Jennifer Sirois to Board of Directors

Jennifer Sirois head shot 2011Jennifer Sirois of Saco has been elected to the board of directors of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), a statewide organization of commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers.

Jennifer Sirois is a Relationship Manager for the Commercial Real Estate lending group at TD Bank, N.A.  She has been with TD Bank since 1998, working in retail, Private Banking, and Commercial Credit Underwriting prior to moving into Commercial Real Estate in 2008.  Jen has been a Board Member of the Risk Management Association since 2005, Board Member of Junior Achievement of York County since 2009, and is a member of the Young School Construction Committee for the Saco School Department.   She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor Degree in Business and Marketing, and from Suffolk University with an MBA.  Jen resides in Saco with her husband and two young daughters.

According to Shelly R. Clark, Vice President of Operations at MEREDA, “TD Bank has been a great supporter of MEREDA over the years and Jen will be a welcome addition to the MEREDA Board.  We are excited to begin working with Jen and look forward to her active participation.”

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

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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Synergy Center – IDEXX World Headquarters Building

by Jessica Estes, CBRE | The Boulos Company

In the fourth of a 6-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, social impact and job creation.  Please join with us in celebrating the Synergy Center – IDEXX World Headquarters Building in Westbrook.

MEREDA:     Describe the building and project.


  • New construction
  • Three story
  • Gross building area – 107,000 square feet
  • Highly efficient, green building design and construction
  • U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) – LEED Gold Certified building (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design)
  • Open collaborative office spaces on 2nd and 3rd floors
  • Wellness Center including a fitness area and on-site health clinic on the 1st floor
  • Multiple conference rooms on the 1st floor with state of the art technology
  • Full dining facilities on the 1st floor serving healthy breakfast and lunches which include entrees, fresh salads, pizza, grab and go sandwiches and many other options.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project? 


  • Corporate growth, increased head count driving need for more space
  • Secondary Need:  Improved workspace flexibility, greater collaboration, faster decision making.
  • Benefits of the new way of working:
    • Enables leadership to be more accessible to their teams, strengthening relationships through a continuous stream of conversation.
    • Allows for more rapid exchange of knowledge and information, enhancing our ability to innovate with intelligence.
    • Places even greater emphasis on mutual respect, open-mindedness, and the willingness and ability to work together to share ideas.
    • Stimulates better communication, leading to process change, greater speed of decision-making, providing greater business alignment to exceed the expectations of our customers.

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


  • Conceptual planning for the new Synergy Center started roughly in early 2009, construction finally started April 2012.  A total of 3+ years of planning prior to construction
  • Multiple concepts were created before settling on current design
  • Extensive use of Steering Committees throughout the planning stage

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


  • Economic uncertainty early on in conceptual planning delayed progress
  • Understanding and communicating the new concept of open collaborative office environments to future occupants
  • Culture Change –enhancing overall work experience – improving employees productivity through personal choice and flexibility; strengthening retention by creating opportunities to connect with the community through volunteerism and maintain a healthy lifestyle through access to an onsite wellness center (fitness & health clinic)
  • The design and construction of the building to green building standards and securing LEED gold certification
  • Recovering from a catastrophic air handling unit leak that caused major damage to a nearly complete building (3 weeks before move-in) and to complete it on time

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


  • The cost of constructing a green building in comparison to standard building construction is presumably higher but we found this not to be the case.  Through hard work, innovative design and alternative construction materials and techniques we were able to build a LEED gold certified building at only a fraction above normal office building costs.

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


  • The building is very open and includes large expanses of exterior window systems.  Natural light and outside views are by far the most notable features of the building.
  • While the LEED program is a reflection of the tangible elements of the project, what’s remarkable about IDEXX is the developments in sustainability that this project represents.
    •  IDEXX employees have raised bed plantings with fruits and vegetables on 2,100 sf/% of their total land area. All grown and maintained by IDEXX teams, these gardens contribute over 1,000 lbs of fresh food to local food banks yearly.
    • IDEXX also collaborates with local CSA farmers to connect employees with local food growers, and the Wellness Center provides education, workout classes and facilities for employee health and fitness. These are not LEED credit requirements, but are the hallmark of a wonderful organization showing how sustainability is more than good for the bottom line.
    • The Synergy Center now serves as a shining beacon of what’s most important to Maine, our land, our people, our communities and our economy.
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MEREDA’s Morning Menu (Bangor) Breakfast Event – “Real Estate Development 101”: What You Need to Know

BreakfastLogoThe development process brings together a number of diverse professionals: bankers, brokers, architects, engineers, etc. Developers themselves come from a number of different disciplines and also work with a number of these same professionals along the way. But, how does one actually get started? And what really happens?

Developers typically have an entrepreneurial nature and know how to sense opportunities for specific projects. Successful developers know how to manage risk and navigate through the whole development process. They know how to build a team of professionals for each project and when to start thinking about putting together sources of capital and pre-marketing the project. They know how to determine if a project is feasible.

Real Estate Development 101: Bangor Version will offer attendees the opportunity to hear from three local developers about their experiences over many years of real estate development.

• The Epstein family has been in the real estate business in the greater Bangor market for decades; Carol Epstein of Epstein Properties will be on the panel to discuss her experience with large to small scale commercial projects of every type, from industrial to office to national retail.

• Julie Sites of Sites Real Estate has developed and managed apartment complexes as well as condominiums and will be able to describe the intricacies associated with residential properties.

• Abe and Heather Furth are relatively new to the real estate development scene, having recently purchased and remodeled the new downtown Bangor Verve location in addition to their business locations in Orono.They will be on hand to talk about their experience with downtown development as well as to give the audience the opportunity to hear from someone who is looking at this process with fresh eyes.

Make plans to join the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) for breakfast from 7:30 – 9:00 AM on March 5th at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor, as Tanya Emery, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Bangor, hosts this great panel.

This is the fourth installment in our “Real Estate Development 101” series! We hope you will join us in Bangor for what is sure to be a very interactive session. Please come to the event prepared to ask questions!

Registering for this Event:

When: March 05, 2015 – 7:30AM to 9:00AM
Where: Hilton Garden Inn, 250 Haskell Road, Bangor, ME

Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after February 27, 2015.

Ticket Prices: MEREDA Member: $25 each | Non – Member: $35 each
Register After February 27: Prices increase $10 each

To register or for more information, visit

This event is sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank

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The Outlook for Maine’s Economy is Bright

JAN 2015 MEREDA_Index_80-onwhite

As a key economic indicator for Maine, the MEREDA Index measures the pulse of the state’s real estate industry. The MEREDA Index is the leading way our industry tracks changes in Maine’s real estate markets. It’s a composite of nine measures reflecting activity in both new development and existing properties, in commercial and residential markets, as well as construction employment.

According to the newest data, the MEREDA Index ranked 80 for Fall 2014 – which has risen by 6.6% over the third quarter last year.  This is a significant acceleration in the Index from spring of 2014, led by the commercial real estate sector, whose Index rose 10% compared with a year ago. This is the first time the commercial sector has led the Index.

The residential sector index grew by 3.5%; more to the point, it is at its highest level since 2007. Construction employment remained essentially flat. Overall, the MEREDA index has recovered 16% since its recession low in the 3rd quarter of 2010 —but remains 20% below pre-recession levels of early 2006.

Download the Full Report Here

About The MEREDA Index

Launched in January 2013 as an economic indicator for Maine, the MEREDA Index is a metric that measures the pulse of the state’s commercial real estate industry, including sale and lease activity, construction starts and other data – for the first time ever, aggregated into one figure as an indicator of this important sector of Maine’s economy. The MEREDA Index is published twice annually in partnership with renowned Maine economist Dr. Charles Colgan, associate director of the Maine Center for Business & Economic Research, and his team at USM’s Muskie Institute.

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event – Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Revolutionizes Real Estate Development

BreakfastLogoThe American Institute of Architects (AIA) defines IPD as “a project delivery method that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to reduce waste and optimize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication and construction.”

The IPD Framework defines the relationships among the project participants and the processes that guide their actions. It embodies the project goals and creates consequences for success or failure tied to their achievement. It puts control in the hands of the project participants and makes them responsible for total project outcome, not just their individual performance. Correctly designed, it stimulates behaviors that increase creativity, improve productivity, and reduce waste. Howard Ashcraft, HansonBridgett

Join the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) for breakfast on February 26, 2015 from 7:30 – 9:00 AM at the DoubleTree by Hilton in South Portland to learn how this delivery method works and how it may help you on your own project.

Registering for this Event:

Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after February 19, 2015.

Ticket Prices: MEREDA Member: $45 each | Non – Member: $55 each
Register After February 19: Prices increase $10 each

To register for this event or for more information, visit

This Morning Menu Breakfast is sponsored by Norway Savings Bank.

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Maine’s Real Estate Industry Leaders Project “A New Normal” for 2015 at MEREDA’s Annual Forecast Conference

PORTLAND, Maine – A record of over 750 of Maine’s real estate professionals gathered recently to hear experts give statewide economic projections for 2015 at the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA)’s annual Forecast Conference, sponsored by TD Bank, in Portland. Industry leaders revealed high hopes for the state’s economy in 2015.

The daylong event featured a welcome address byGovernor Paul LePage, stating that in 2015 “the most important thing [for the state’s economy] is to get job creators to invest in Maine”, as well as eight market forecast presentations. These initial projections cite 2015 as ushering in a “new normal” of consistent growth.

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