A record of nearly 900 of Maine’s real estate professionals gathered recently to hear experts give statewide economic projections 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 2018 MEREDA Forecast Conference included an awards ceremony to recognize five outstanding industry professionals, each selected for their contributions to MEREDA and, more generally, to the health of the Maine real estate market over the last several years.
Peter Merrill, of Portland has been selected for the Robert B. Patterson, Jr. Founders’ Award, for significant contributions to the state's real estate industry over many years. With the Maine State Housing Authority for more than two decades, Peter serves as the agency's deputy director and was recently named interim director (for the second time). At MaineHousing, he is responsible for general operations and for representing MaineHousing before the Legislature.
Peter has been instrumental in helping MaineHousing meet its mission to address the problems of unsafe, unsuitable, overcrowded, and unaffordable housing through initiatives such as the issuance of bonds to finance single family and multi-family housing for Maine’s low and moderate income citizens, supporting the homeless, and working with policy leaders to administer federal housing programs including rental subsidies, weatherization and fuel assistance, housing block grants, and the low-income housing tax credit program.
Peter has served on MEREDA’s public policy committee for more than a decade. He has tremendous insight into of the workings of the Legislature and has provided MEREDA with invaluable counsel in its public affairs endeavors.
Peter has left many fingerprints throughout Augusta and Maine, and has helped to make a real and lasting difference for the real estate industry as a whole and in the lives of our fellow citizens.
The co-chairs of MEREDA's DevelopME program, Sam LeGeyt and Cameron Woodford share this year’s MEREDA President’s Award, in recognition of a significant, new, and/or emerging contribution on MEREDA’s behalf.
Through DevelopME, Sam and Cam have engaged with the next generation of leaders from MEREDA's membership to create professional development opportunities for emerging real estate and development professionals, including content-deep lunch and learn sessions and a mentorship program meant to cultivate and connect.
In addition to his work with DevelopME, Sam, of Yarmouth, is the newest member of MEREDA’s board of directors, sits on MEREDA’s membership and marketing committee, serves on the City of Westbrook's Economic Vitality Committee, and is an associate broker with Harnden Commercial Brokers, specializing in office and investment in the southern Maine market.
Cam, of Freeport, will serve on MEREDA’s board of directors next year, currently sits on MEREDA's events committee, and serves as an acquisitions analyst with Northern New England Housing Investment Fund, where he helps source and analyze equity investments in affordable housing projects across Maine and New Hampshire.
Brit Vitalius, of Yarmouth, will receive MEREDA's Public Policy Award for his significant impact on public policy changes to benefit responsible real estate development in Maine.
Last fall, Brit’s leadership, coalition building, and active role as a spokesperson and visionary led to the defeat of a rent control ordinance in the state's largest city, which would have had a devastating impact not only for landlords, but also for tenants looking to live in safe, comfortable, affordable buildings, and might have risked a trickle-down effect to other municipalities across Maine.
Founder and designated broker of Vitalius Real Estate Group, Brit is in his fourth term as president of the Southern Maine Landlord Association, an annual presenter at MEREDA's Forecast Conference, and serves on Portland’s Fire Safety Task Force. Brit is also a member of the board of Maine Listings and personally owns and manages multi-unit investments in Portland and Yarmouth.
Ethan Boxer-Macomber, of Portland, will receive MEREDA’s Volunteer of the Year Award for enthusiastically sharing his time and energy and passions with the organization. For instance, this past summer and into late fall, Ethan lent considerable time and energy alongside others to successfully defeat Question 2 on Portland's municipal ballot, which would have provided a zoning loophole so that a small number of residents could thwart a project that might otherwise benefit the city, such as a proposed cold storage locker, affordable housing developments, or others.
Ethan also recently lent his expertise to standing-room only crowds at MEREDA's young professionals group, DevelopME, presenting twice on the topics of “how to break into development" and "analyzing the deal."
A municipal planner by education who previously held public posts in both Davis, California and Portland, Maine, Ethan is now the principal of Anew Development with 18 years of experience in real estate, housing, and community development, having successfully led multiple large-scale residential development projects across southern Maine.
Next, MEREDA will recognize notable projects from the last year in Maine commercial real estate. That awards ceremony is scheduled as part of the organization’s spring conference, on May 16, 2018.