How the New Overtime Regulations Will Affect the Real Estate Industry

By Tawny Alvarez, Verrill Dana

By now, you’ve likely heard about the Department of Labor’s changes to the federal overtime regulations that will take effect on December 1, 2016.  The new rule applies to exempt employees and more than doubles the salary basis required to classify an employee as exempt.  Real estate professionals may have paid the update little attention, as so many real estate salespeople work as independent contractors, but it is important to recognize how this change will affect other individuals involved in the real estate business including managers, receptionists, and assistants.

Independent Contractor Misconceptions

You cannot simply label an individual as in independent contractor in order to protect your company from the expenses associated with employees.  A specific set of facts must be analyzed (under both state and federal law) to determine the appropriate classification of an individual.  Accordingly, if you have assumed this change is inapplicable because you only have “independent contractors” on staff, an in-depth analysis of your business model is likely necessary to confirm appropriate classification.  Further, your support staff likely will not qualify as independent contractors under either state or federal law, so even if your agents are independent contractors, others in your organization may be affected by this change.

Support Staff Exemptions

It’s important to look at how you are currently classifying your support staff—are they exempt or non-exempt employees?  These terms are often used interchangeably with the terms “salary” and “hourly;” the terms do not, however, have the same meaning.  While “salary” and “hourly” denote a payment structure, “exempt” and “non-exempt” are legal categories for which an analysis must be done to determine whether, under state and federal law, an individual is entitled to overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 per week.  Generally, all employees are entitled to payment of overtime wages at a rate of time and a half for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a week, unless the individual falls within an exemption to the overtime rules.

In the real estate industry, the two most common exemptions are the administrative and executive exemptions.  Currently, to qualify for the executive exemption the employee must (1) be compensated at a rate of at least $455 per week; (2) be managing a recognized department or subdivision of the enterprise; (3) direct the work of at least two or more full-time employees or their equivalent; and (4) have the authority to hire and fire other employees or have a strong influence on those decisions.  To qualify as an administrative exempt employee, currently the employee must: (1) be compensated at a rate of at least $455 per week; (2) have primary work duties that require office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer; and (3) exercise discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

DOL Salary-Level Update

The overtime changes raise the weekly compensation rate required to qualify for exemption from $455 per week to $913 per week (or from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year).  The “duties test,” however, will not change at this time.  The rule permits employers to use non-discretionary bonuses or commissions to satisfy up to 10% the $913 per week figure, but certain conditions must be met to do so.

In determining your best course of action in response to these changes, the first step is to identify any exempt employees who are currently making less than $47,476 per year ($913 per week).  Next, evaluate whether they are appropriately classified as exempt in the first place.  Did you perform the appropriate analysis when you originally created the position or speak to an employment attorney regarding classification?  If not, this is the time to have that conversation with an attorney.  Once you are sure an employee is properly classified, but is currently making less than $47,476, begin to consider your options to be in compliance with the law on December 1, 2016. Is it financially feasible to simply increase the employee’s salary to $47,476?  Does the employee regularly work more than 40 hours per week?  If not, changing them to a non-exempt hourly employee may make sense.  Beware, however, of the cultural and morale issues that could surround such a change.  If the employee is reclassified as non-exempt, you should also consider whether the employee travels often or works through electronic means on nights and weekends.  If that is the case, be sure to review what time is included in “compensable time.”

Very few industries will find themselves unaffected by these changes, and the real estate industry is no exception.

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MEREDA’s Annual Lewiston/Auburn Fall Networking Social

After the summer break, make plans to join MEREDA at Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston on September 22 from 5-7 pm for its Annual L/A Fall Social.  Located in the historic Bates Mill, Baxter Brewing currently distributes its flavorful and unique craft beers statewide in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire & Vermont.

MEREDA’s networking events attract key players in Maine’s real estate industry. Come enjoy great food, Maine-made beer, and lively conversation with colleagues, friends and other industry professionals. A great forum to put a face with a name as well as make new business connections!

Interested in learning about the brewery? A guided tour will be available fifteen minutes before the event at 4:45 pm. 

Register for this event

 About the Event:

MEREDA’s Annual Lewiston/Auburn Networking Social

September 22, 2016 – 5:00 – 7:00 pm

Baxter Brewing
130 Mill Street
Lewiston, ME

Registering for the Event:

MEREDA Member: $25 each, Non – Member: $35 each
Prices Increase by $10 after September 15th (Includes (2) Complimentary Beer Tickets, Brewery Tour & Hors d’oeuvres )

Visit www.mereda.org for more information. 

This MEREDA event is sponsored by NAI The Dunham Group and Platz Associates.

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MEREDA’s Year in Review 2015 -2016

By MEREDA’s Immediate Past President, Michael O’Reilly, Bangor Savings Bank

MEREDA Since its inception, MEREDA has continued to make progress on behalf of the development community addressing the challenges and issues relating to Maine’s real estate activities.  MEREDA’s strength has always come from the support and participation of its valued members. While we look forward to the beginning of a new fiscal year, it is important that we take a moment to look back and reflect on our accomplishments, and take time to thank you, MEREDA’s members, (300+) for your investment in the Association over the year.  Your continuing support is critical to our ability to maintain and increase our advocacy work, and programs and related services, which are vital to development interests in Maine.

It has been an honor to have served as MEREDA’s president these past two years, and I look forward to MEREDA’s continued growth and success.  I am pleased to share with you below, an overview of MEREDA’s accomplishments this past year.

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

Advocacy

This year, one of MEREDA’s key achievements on the legislative front was the passage of the MEREDA sponsored bill to expedite the appeals process of land use decisions.  For years, opponents to key development projects in Maine have used the court system as a tool to delay projects knowing that delay itself could cause projects to fail. In response to this problem, MEREDA introduced LD 775 to expedite the land use appeals process in Maine and help facilitate development throughout the State. “An Act to Streamline Judicial Review of Certain Land Use Decisions,” became law on April 19. Now, when a municipal land use decision on a significant project is appealed to Superior Court, any party will have the option of removing the case to the Business and Consumer Docket (“BCD”), and the BCD must accept the case. Unlike the regular docket of the Superior Court, the BCD aims to resolve its cases within 10 months. The new law improves predictability and efficiency in the local permitting process.   April 14, 2016 Portland Press Herald Article – Law enacted to speed legal process for development disputes

MEREDA Monitors and Responds to other Legislation

Our active Public Policy Committee keeps a watchful eye on dozens of bills during every legislative session. This is a complicated and time consuming effort, but MEREDA has established itself as a voice of reason and an organization that can help Legislators understand the potential implications, both good and bad, of a particular piece of legislation or amendment. For example, the Committee tracked the progress of LD 713, a resolve regarding Shoreland Zoning that triggered MEREDA’s participation in a Shoreland Zoning Working Group last fall.  Ultimately, the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee sent letters to key state agencies to reinforce existing law and encourage greater education about compliance in the Shoreland Zone.  MEREDA also followed up on a bill it opposed last year, LD 713, related to development in flood zones and tracked it this session until its demise.  Each session brings new challenges and MEREDA will be prepared to review and respond to bills introduced in the next legislative session.

Education & Insight

MEREDA’s Morning Menu Meetings, Networking Events, Conferences

This year, MEREDA hosted a total of 16 events on topics ranging from construction workforce, commercial financing trends, historic tax credits, real estate partnerships, risk management at the statehouse, among others.  MEREDA’s breakfast and social events held throughout the state bring together highly-regarded experts and cover a variety of topical subjects.  From time to time, MEREDA also collaborates with other like-minded groups on various topics.   This year, MEREDA partnered with Build Maine, the Portland Regional Chamber, and GrowSmart Maine.

MEREDA’s signature event, the annual Forecast Conference and Member Showcase in January attracted nearly 800 attendees, and this year’s Spring Conference had an all-time high of 280 attendees. Each year, MEREDA works hard to find forward thinking, trend-worthy topics for the annual spring conference, and each year continues to amaze us!  This year we found out how the “Office of the Future” brings together place and technology, with real-world examples from Maine.    Both events garnered several media mentions.  In fact, the 2016 Forecast Conference dominated the headlines for a week, or more!

MEREDA Index – MEREDA continues to work with Dr. Charles Colgan at the Muskie School on the MEREDA Index, which serves as a barometer for development activity in the state’s real estate sector.  Published biannually, the Index features supporting commentary by experts from key real estate sectors.  The most recent edition of the MEREDA Index reflects a solid performance in the real estate market with a composite score of 90.7. While that number appears to have dropped from the previous release in the Fall of 2015, the cause of that relates to the effect of the three large transactions (100 Middle St., along with One and Two Portland Square). This effect is primarily felt in the commercial portion of the index and more specifically under square footage sold. However, the actual dip in commercial exclusive of these very large sales was small.

It is notable that the residential index was a primary positive driver in the overall index this spring. Sales of existing homes and new mortgage originations both saw strong increasing trends. The lack of existing housing stock is driving demand for new residential construction in both the single-family and condominium market. While the construction industry continues to deal with a workforce shortage, the construction component of the Index is exhibiting a gradual rise. In the past we have seen growth spurts in construction in the hospitality, senior housing and condominium markets, and the latest spike is in residential apartment building construction.

 Networking

The opportunity to connect with a diverse network of real estate professionals and related service providers is a valued benefit of the MEREDA membership.  Over the years, many beneficial business relationships have begun at one of our annual social events, conferences, breakfast forums, and even through committee work.  This past year, MEREDA held 2 annual networking social events, along with providing separate socializing time at our annual Forecast & Spring conferences, which gave our members a total of 4 opportunities to get to know one another.

Workforce Development Issues

MEREDA is keenly aware of the shortage of skilled trades men and women in our great state and is beginning to explore ways in which we may be able to contribute and lend our resources to efforts to help educate, attract, and retain skilled workers, starting with our own students.  An educated workforce is vital to support economic development.  MEREDA’s “Strikes for Scholars” fundraiser allows us to put our dollars to work for education, and is just one way for us to lend a hand!

We are proud to support Maine students as they prepare for careers that aim to promote MEREDA’s mission of responsible development and ownership of real estate throughout the State. This year, MEREDA raised nearly $18,000 for scholarships for Maine students.  MEREDA will be donating an additional $5,000 to this figure to be able to assist 16 students throughout the State achieve a college credential.  Two students from each of the 7 community colleges, and 2 from the College of Science, Technology & Health at the University of Southern Maine (USM) will each receive a $1500 scholarship from MEREDA!

MEREDA’s leadership, members and volunteers are a vital part of Maine’s economy.  Whether you look to us for education, advocacy, networking, or all three, this is an exciting time to be part of MEREDA!

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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Capital Judicial Center

In the third 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 Capital Judicial Complex in Augusta.  A conversation with Alan G. Kuniholm, AIA, LEED AP, principal of PDT Architects.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Alan Kuniholm:  Funding for the Capital Judicial Complex was appropriated during the Baldacci Administration in 2010 and is the second major judicial consolidation project in the State, the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor being the first. The CJC consolidates the Kennebec County Superior Court, the Augusta District Court, the Family Court, Administrative Office of the Courts including the judicial marshals, and the Office of Information Technology. The new complex was designed as a 100 year building and comprises 125,000SF on four floors above structured parking on a 2.4 acre urban site adjacent to the historic Kennebec County Courthouse which has been in continuous use since 1830. The CJC provides for 6 new courtrooms, jury and non-jury, conferencing, mediation and multi-purpose spaces, judicial chambers, and safe and secure separated circulation for the public, the judiciary, and prisoners alike.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project? 

Alan Kuniholm:  The over-arching goals of the new complexes is to better serve the public through consolidation of separate facilities, new state-of-the-art security and technology, and to replace aging facilities with modern, energy efficient buildings. The new CJC project was designed for LEED Silver.

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

Alan Kuniholm:  Of course planning and funding for this project started years before PDT Architects was interviewed for the project in November of 2010. We were awarded the contract in January of 2011.  Consigli Construction was selected as the construction manager in the fall of 2011 just as the programming and space allocation was being completed. PDT completed schematic design in March of 2012. In August of 2012 construction began with an early demo package for the existing buildings on the site, and another package for site utilities. A GMP was reached in July of 2012 for $43M when the design team was 30% complete with design development, an early structural package allowed site-work, piles, and grade beams to begin in November of 2012. We completed the design documents in April of 2013. Steel erection was complete and the new court facility was weather tight in November of 2013. The project was bid over 24 months with multiple bid packages, the AV package was the last package to be bid just before the courthouse opened to the public on March 1 of 2015.

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

Alan Kuniholm:  (1) Fast-tracking a courthouse project on an urban brownfield site with over 100’ of elevation change, (2) Closing a street and connecting the new court facility to the 1830 Kennebec County Courthouse with a glass enclosed bridge, (3) Being cross-examined during the design process……

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

Alan Kuniholm:  The first sitting of a court in this area was when Augusta was part of Hallowell, and Lincoln County, and still part of Massachusetts, and took place in Pollard’s Tavern in 1787 which later burned down. Winthrop Street was the main artery of Augusta rising up the hill from Water Street. A new courthouse was built to replace the tavern for the Court of Common Pleas, and at that time they had no funds to complete the project and held court in an unfinished building.

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

Alan Kuniholm:  The lantern over the public stair, it is symbolic of the scales of justice, and when using the stair or seen from afar, takes its place amongst the church spires and the capitol dome.

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu: Alternative Project Delivery – the New Economic Development Opportunity

p3Relationships between the public and private sectors in the provision of infrastructure projects and other services are evolving and becoming more fluid.  A popular term of art to describe these evolving relationships is a P3 or a public-private partnership. This presentation will provide an overview of the types of available relationship structures to accomplish economic development and other projects.  The private sector is participating in phases of projects not traditionally undertaken by the private sector.  With the right risk allocation, these alternative relationship structures can bring about projects that would not otherwise move forward.  The presentation will provide real life examples both outside and inside the State of Maine.  In order to realize the full potential of these alternative structures in Maine, we need to (1) assess and address any legal obstacles, (2) build up the necessary and applicable professional services undertake workforce development, and (3) properly prioritize and attend to stakeholder education and management associated with alternative project delivery structures.

Join MEREDA on September 8th at the Clarion Hotel in Portland as this presentation explores Public Private Partnerships (P3s) and other forms of alternative financing, and how Maine could use these tools more effectively in order to improve and maintain our important public infrastructure.

About our Presenters:

Shana Cook Mueller, Esq., Shareholder, Bernstein Shur
With expertise across municipal law, development, and public finance, Shana has spent that last decade helping municipalities make the most of scarce resources and working with private clients to turn development plans into a reality.  Holding a master’s in public administration with a focus on finance, Shana brings insight on the public entity’s perspective to every project-and regularly conducts projections to demonstrate the property tax implications of new development projects. Shana was instrumental in creating Maine’s first-ever transit-oriented tax increment financing (TIF) district and has one of the most active TIF practices in Maine. She also serves as bond counsel on matters such as tax-exempt leases, Maine Municipal Bond Bank issues, public and negotiated sales and post issuance compliance.  She also works on property tax matters, zoning issues, and amending ordinances.  In her former life, Shana was a public policy researcher and analyst at an economics and management consulting firm in Boston.  She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and her Masters Degree in Public Administration and Law Degree from the University of Connecticut.

Steve Hinchman, Esq., Director of Financing at ReVision Energy
Steve has more than forty years of legal and public policy experience, including 8 years of environmental reporting with Colorado’s High Country News, a tenure with the Southwestern Colorado Resource Advisory Council, six years with the Conservation Law Foundation in Maine and General Counsel of GridSolar, LLC. A 2003 Graduate, Summa Cum Laude, of the Vermont Law School, Mr. Hinchman is admitted to the bar in Maine, the U.S. District Court of Maine, and the First and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and has participated in cases before the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals. Mr. Hinchman has also practiced before the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, the Land Use Regulatory Commission, the Maine Ethics Commission, and the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committees on Natural Resources and Energy and Utilities. At ReVision Energy, Steve Hinchman utilizes his legal experience to secure financing solutions for solar energy projects throughout the Northeast.

Stephen Jones, Partner, Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure Capital
Stephen Jones is a Partner in Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure Capital, and former Director of Investments at Odebrecht Construction USA Inc. Stephen’s demonstrated track record in infrastructure and development project finance and investment spans 5 continents in 22 years with major financial institutions. His clients have included the top engineering, construction, concession, development, utility and institutional investors in the world.

About the Event

MEREDA’s Morning Menu: Alternative Project Delivery – the New Economic Development Opportunity

September 8, 2016 – 7:30AM to 9:00AM

Clarion Hotel
1230 Congress Street
Portland, ME

Buffet Breakfast: 7:30-8:00 am
Program: 8:00-9:00 am

Registering for this Event:

Member: $45 pp | Non-Member: $55 pp
Prices increase by $10 after September 1st

Your RSVP is requested by September 1, 2016. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after September 1st.

Visit www.mereda.org for more information and to register.

This MEREDA “Morning Menu” Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank and Bernstein Shur.

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MEREDA Raises Money for Maine Students through Scholarship Fundraiser

On May 5th, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) hosted its Fourth Annual ” Strikes for Scholars” Bowl-a-Thon and Silent Auction Fundraising Event at Bayside Bowl in Portland.  Thanks to the support of our bowling teams, sponsors, and donators,the event raised nearly $18,000, all of which will fund scholarships for Maine students enrolled in the building trades, architecture, construction, engineering or business programs at a Maine Community College (MCCS), or the College of Science, Technology & Health at the University of Southern Maine (USM).

MEREDA is keenly aware of the shortage of skilled trades men and women in our great state and is beginning to explore ways in which we may be able to contribute and lend our resources to efforts to help educate, attract, and retain skilled workers, starting with our own students.  MEREDA’s “Strikes for Scholars” fundraiser allows us to put our dollars to work for education, and is just one way for us to lend a hand!

We are proud to support Maine students as they prepare for careers that aim to promote MEREDA’s mission of responsible development and ownership of real estate throughout the State. In fact, MEREDA will be donating an additional $5,000 to the fund, bringing the total number of students receiving scholarships to 16!  Two students from each of the 7 community colleges, and 2 from the College of Science, Technology & Health at the University of Southern Maine (USM) will each receive a $1500 scholarship from MEREDA!

Special thanks to Landry French / Construction and AAA Energy Service Co. for participating as our Bowl-a-Thon and Silent Auction Sponsors, and our additional sponsors, MainebizGEI Consultants, and Otis | Atwell!  We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

From left, of Bath Savings Institution: Dan Hallinan, Sarah Gagnon, Sarah Piper, Mike Celeste, Julie Wagoner, Theresa Hodge and Crusher of the Maine Red Claws

From left, of Bath Savings Institution: Dan Hallinan, Sarah Gagnon, Sarah Piper, Mike Celeste, Julie Wagoner, Theresa Hodge and Crusher of the Maine Red Claws

Check out more photos from the event here.

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Energy Islanding: Creating Microgrids for Grid Resiliency and On Site Generation

Geoff Sparrow, ReVision Energy and Dan Kelley, Woodard & Curran

Microgrids are a localized grouping of electricity sources that operate and connect to the centralized grid but can also disconnect and function autonomously. These systems can serve a number of functions, including providing continuous electricity for buildings that cannot lose power or providing back-up power for emergency shelters in municipalities that are wisely preparing for resiliency in the face of increasingly severe weather patterns. In addition, when integrating renewable energy sources, microgrids support a flexible and more efficient electric grid.

Microgrids_2

The traditional, centralized electric grid that has serviced cities and towns for decades contributes to a dramatic loss in energy during transmission and distribution. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that conventional electric transmission and distribution loses on average about 6% of the electricity that is transmitted and distributed domestically each year. A large percentage of energy is lost in the production of electricity at the source, so this additional 6% loss during transmission and distribution is significant. A microgrid can substantially minimize this energy loss and the inefficient process of burning fossil fuels from power plants.

Microgrids can produce and store energy from a number of different sources. Solar, wind, steam/gas turbines, and fuel cells are efficient ways for communities or mission critical assets to produce their own energy and have the ability to function without the power grid.  These mission critical assets (hospitals, government buildings, data centers, community storm shelters) depend on a constant and reliable source of energy to function. Microgrids are resilient, fuel efficient, and can provide these establishments with an energy source during a centralized grid outage.

Storing energy in a microgrid relies on battery storage and/or a system that stores energy thermally for domestic water heating, process heating, and/or space heating. Combined Heat and Power plants (CHP) use internal combustion engines or steam turbines to allow for a portion of the energy production to be used for electricity production and the excess heat energy to be used for thermal loads. This technique is extremely efficient compared to a single-stage, high-mass, fossil-fuel boiler. There is no need for the establishment to buy and maintain backup generators, and these microgrid systems lead to an increase in property value.

Microgrids_3

Microgrids are scalable and exist in residential, small/large commercial, and district-size systems. Residential and small commercial systems typically consist of a solar energy system, battery storage, and a backup generator. Large commercial and district sites typically add CHP to the energy mix. These larger sites are also able to manage their demand charges, meaning they can charge up their batteries during times of low demand and discharge during peak energy demand periods. Demand charges can vary from  $10 dollars to more than $50 per kW and typically make up half of the electric bill of a commercial facility. Mitigating these peak demand charges with a microgrid allows for significant savings to the utility customer.

The price of solar energy with batteries has dropped significantly in the past few decades. A 30% federal tax credit, rebates, grants, and accelerated depreciation are important advantages that can be utilized when investing in a solar electric system with or without battery storage. CHP systems have also come down in price and offer an array of plant sizes that are compatible with everything from small commercial projects to large institutions. The typical payback of these systems range from 7-12 years with a 40-year serviceable lifespan, making these systems affordable and practical.

Microgrid systems can act as a service to utilities by helping them manage the ever fluctuating demand on the power grid. The vision for the utility of tomorrow is that every customer has their own microgrid capabilities that can act as a service to the utility when it is there and can provide ‘offline’ power when it isn’t.

 

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Maine Real Estate & Development Association Elects William Schad to its Board of Directors

Bill SchadWilliam Schad of North Yarmouth 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.

William Schad is Southern Maine Commercial Regional Vice President at TD Bank. Over the course of his career with TD Bank, William has focused on C&I, tax exempt and investment real estate lending in the greater Portland market.

In addition to his work with TD Bank, William has served as a Board Member for Counseling Services, Inc. Junior Achievement of Maine and Ronald McDonald House of Portland.

MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark says, “Bill will be a great addition to MEREDA’s Board of Directors, bringing with him great expertise and industry knowledge. We’re anxious to begin working with him.”

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

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Maine Real Estate & Development Association Names New President and Announces 2016-17 Officers

Paul Peck May 2010 croppedPaul Peck, attorney at Drummond & Drummond and real estate developer with LWS Development LLC 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.

Paul succeeds Michael O’Reilly of Bangor Savings Bank who has led MEREDA for the past two years. “Mike has been a great inspiration to our fellow board members, and under his leadership, MEREDA remains committed and positioned for future growth and success”, said Peck.  “I welcome the opportunity to guide the organization in its continued pursuit of advocating for legislation in Augusta that encourages responsible development and sensible planning, as well as providing quality opportunities for learning and business development.”

Since joining the Board of Directors in 2010, Paul has chaired the Conference & Seminar Committee and also serves on its Executive Committee.

MEREDA also announced its 2016 / 2017 slate of officers which include President Paul Peck of Drummond & Drummond, Vice Presidents Bruce Jones of Creative Office Pavilion and Brian Curley of PDT Architects, Treasurer William Shanahan, of Northern New England Housing Investment Fund and Secretary Shelly R. Clark, who also serves full time as MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations.

L-R: Bruce Jones, Brian Curley, Bill Shanahan, Shelly R. Clark

L-R: Bruce Jones, Brian Curley, Bill Shanahan, Shelly R. Clark

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

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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on the Circular Block Building

In the second 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 Circular Block Building in Bangor.  A conversation with developer, Robert Perry Builders.

IMG_4117-HDR Plaque Photo 25 broad street

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Robert Perry Builders:  The original 13000 sq. foot circular building was an unoccupied shell that was built in 1869 for Merchant’s Bank, but had been empty for several years.  An additional 4000 sq. feet was added to the project with the purchase of an adjacent building.  The buildings were renovated to house seven luxury apartments, a restaurant and a jewelry shop located in  West Market Square – the hub for downtown Bangor.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?

Robert Perry Builders:  The owner had been looking for an investment that would enhance the revitalization going on in downtown Bangor.   The Circular Block building was an anchor building for West Market Square area that had been sitting empty, but had gone through some earlier roofing and structural work.  With the need of retail and residential space in the downtown area the city was very supportive of the project by providing a TIF to assist in the project.   In addition the city was working on the phase 1 improvements of West Market Square with the replacement of water lines, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping along Broad Street so the timing for the project was able to coincide with those renovations.

IMG_0664-HDR

MEREDA:  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Robert Perry Builders:  The first building was purchased in the fall of 2013 and WBRC Architects/Engineers began working on the designs for the space soon after.  The construction started at the beginning of 2014 for the apartments so the planning process was very quick.  The construction lasted almost a year and came in on time and on budget for the apartments.  The construction of  the first floor restaurant began soon after with a completion of date of early summer 2015.

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

Robert Perry Builders:  Maximizing every bit of area for living space in the unique circular shape of the building and pie shaped apartments proved to be a challenge.  All of the mechanical systems in the building were customized to fit the unique space.    Also, the addition of a 2nd attached building in the Spring of 2014 added some challenges with trying to incorporate it into the existing project  after it had started.  The work that the city was doing on Broad Street at the time did provide some challenges, but the timing of that project only benefitted our renovation in the end.

IMG_1010-HDR

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

Robert Perry Builders:  There were many people who did not think the idea of high end luxury living space in downtown Bangor would work so we were concerned about whether we would  have a problem filling them, but there is a definitely a market for them and we now have a waiting list. The demand has been a little unexpected, but it was what we hoped to see happen.

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

Robert Perry Builders:  The Circular Block Building stands out in Bangor as an example of maintaining the character and history of a building yet modernizing it to suit the needs of a changing downtown community.  It provides superior living accommodations that far exceed what is currently offered in most of downtown.  We have seen the resurgence of people wanting to get back to downtown community living.  People love the idea of being able to live in a thriving central location of the city close to all of the exciting things happening in downtown.

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