News and moves of the people and events in the housing industry

Breaking news on the movement of people and events that shape the housing industry. In this Moves: Henry Cisneros leaves the board of Countrywide Financial and Houston master-planned community Bridgeland expands.
By Staff | November 30, 2007

Warrenville, Ill.-based Neumann Homes shut down in late October and announced it would file for bankruptcy protection. CEO Ken Neumann issued a statement saying the "significant downturn in the Detroit, Chicago and Denver housing markets resulted in this situation. Even after the significant help we have received from our lenders this year, the company can no longer weather this storm." In retrospect, Neumann may regret his acquisition of Mich.-based Tadian Homes in January of 2005. Detroit is the most troubled of Neumann's markets.

Robert Freed is the new president and CEO of Palo Alto, Calif.-based SummerHill Homes. Over the next five years, Marcus & Millichap, SummerHill's parent real-estate investment giant, expects SummerHill to become one of Northern California's largest home builders. Freed was previously president and regional general manager of KB Home's Northern California operations. He was also in charge of KB's land acquisition activities nationally. Joe Head will continue as president of SummerHill Land, and Scott Menard will continue as chief operating officer of SummerHill.

Houston land development giant General Growth Properties, the second-largest U.S.-based real estate investment trust, has purchased an additional 1,234 acres to expand Bridgeland, a young master-planned community in the northwest quadrant of the Houston market. The acquisition brings Bridgeland's total acreage to 11,401, but more importantly, it gives the community direct access to the future Grand Parkway (Texas 99). Combined with 750 acres Bridgeland owns on the north side of Cypress Creek, it creates a parcel large enough for another residential village. Bridgeland currently has four villages and a town center planned south of the creek. The tract was purchased from the state.

Mark Ayers has been promoted to vice president of marketing of Masco's Builder Cabinet Group, which includes Merillat and Quality Cabinets brands. Ayers had been director of product and business development. He'll report to Karen Strauss, Masco Builder Cabinet Group president.

Rich Rodriguez, 42, former senior vice president of operations and process at John Laing Homes (aka WL Homes), the Newport Beach, Calif.-based home builder, has been named CEO of Emaar Dubai, the Dubai operating unit of John Laing parent Emaar Properties. In his new position, Rodriguez will oversee key operations in Dubai, including the completion of Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world, and The Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping and entertainment venues. Before moving to Laing in April 2006, Rodriguez spent four years as vice president of organizational development for Centex Corp. in Dallas.

When Little Neck, N.Y.-based electrical products giant Leviton Manufacturing Co. Chairman Harold Leviton recently passed away, he left behind a carefully crafted succession plan for the firm his father started in 1906; the plan places Donald J. Hendler in the role of CEO and Stephen B. Sokolow as chairman of the firm's board of directors. The two sons-in-law will now lead Leviton into its second century of operations as a private, family-owned business.

Scala Real Estate Partners, an Irvine, Calif.-based investment and development firm, announced plans for a $200 million joint investment program. Scala will partner with builders to provide capital to existing or planned projects in California while using its development expertise to add value to the investments. Co-managing partners L.M. Cummings and Frank Zaccanelli executed this strategy in the mid-1990s. The investment program will be managed by Scala and capitalized jointly by Oxford Property Group and Hehman Brothers Private Equity. Oxford is the real-estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, one of the largest pension plans in Canada. Lehman manages two equity funds aggregating $4 billion in capital.

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Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development HENRY CISNEROS has resigned from the board of directors of troubled mortgage industry giant Countrywide Financial. Cisneros' recent letter of resignation said his decision was made to allow more time as chairman of CityView, the innovative, Santa Monica, Calif.-based firm he helped create to provide financing for home builders doing workforce housing projects. Cisneros called Countrywide "well-managed" and said he has "enormous confidence" in its leadership.


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