Five businesspeople who have made extraordinary contributions to real estate development in Maine will be honored next week at the annual Maine Real Estate and Development Association forecasting conference.

Among those who will be honored are:

Peter Merrill of Portland, who 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, Merrill 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.

The co-chairs of MEREDA’s DevelopME program, Sam LeGeyt and Cameron Woodford, will share this year’s MEREDA President’s Award, in recognition of a significant, new, and/or emerging contribution on MEREDA’s behalf. Through DevelopME, LeGeyt and Woodford 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.

Brit Vitalius, founder and designated broker of Vitalius Real Estate Group, will receive MEREDA’s Public Policy Award for his significant impact on public policy changes to benefit responsible real estate development in Maine. This fall, Vitalius’ 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.

• 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, Boxer-Macomber 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.

The awards will be presented as part of the annual conference, set for Jan. 18 at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, beginning at 8 am. Registration is available at

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