Main Street Landing

 

Anyone who’s spent more than a few days in Burlington, Vermont, has heard of Main Street Landing. Over the last 36 years, the company has developed 250,000 square feet of built environment on the waterfront, including the performing arts center that bears the company’s name.

They’ve won numerous awards, from local honors like the Burlington Historic Preservation Association Award to national recognition like the Energy Star for Small Business Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Main Street Landing now controls almost all of the leasable and commercial privately owned property on the waterfront.

Thinking of a redevelopment company as a passion project may sound unusual, but for co-founders Melinda Moulton and Lisa Steele, that’s what Main Street Landing is — a result of their driving energy to maintain accessibility to the waterfront, to focus on affordable rent, mixed use, arts and culture, and to do all of that with an emphasis on being socially responsible and good to the environment.

People said that simply wasn’t possible, but Steele and Moulton believed it was. They set out to show what could be accomplished with a human-focused vision, and they have more than succeeded.

Gravel & Shea has had the fortune to represent Main Street Landing through the decades. Main Street Landing originally worked with Charlie Shea and Bob O’Neill, and then about 10 years ago Moulton recalls, she had a lunch meeting with Gravel & Shea Partner, Michelle Farkas, and the rest has been history.

“I just thought she was terrific,” says Moulton. The company brought Farkas on to do some of their real estate work, and over the years, the relationship grew.

“She’s a trusted advisor on a lot of things related to this company,” says Moulton. “Whether it’s subdividing a piece of property or dealing with a neighbor’s toxic flow or helping to update our leases.”

Moulton says Farkas is more than “just a lawyer” — she’s a confidante.

“She’s my go-to. Before anything gets signed, I want her to look at it. Our minds work a lot alike, so I love the fact that she’s quick, she doesn’t dilly-dally over decisions, she can sense right away what the right direction is to go. She’s done some really complicated work for us, especially around developing the finalization of our condominium. I just enjoy the way that she thinks and her zeroing in on what’s important and what’s not.”

While Main Street Landing has a relatively small team — eight employees — they are constantly involved in capital improvements, run a performing arts center, and manage approximately one hundred leases. So they also work regularly with over a hundred contractors. Gravel & Shea Partner Heather Hammond has helped the company with several human resources projects, including updating their personnel handbook. “Heather has been just fabulous,” says Moulton.

Moulton appreciates the service she’s received from Gravel & Shea, but she adds that part of what she loves about the firm is their focus on women’s initiatives and their strong commitment to gender diversity. “That really speaks to me as a woman who grew up in a time when women weren’t taken seriously and weren’t honored for their brilliance and their power and their abilities,” says Moulton.

Today, anyone who would question whether Moulton and her partner Steele should be taken seriously has not been paying attention. The “two women with a vision,” as they call themselves, have redefined what it means to be a sustainable redevelopment company. Gravel & Shea is proud to have been by their side for the last decade, and we’re happy to support them as they continue to expand the boundaries of what is possible.