November 12 — One of America’s household names in construction, Levitt Corp, announced last week that its Levitt & Sons LLC division has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The division built retirement communities for baby boomers. In making its move the company cited cited “unprecedented conditions in the home-building industry” that were “particularly sudden and steep” in Florida and the Southeast.
While the sub-prime catastrophe has been really bad for builders of traditional homes, this is one of the most direct cases that show that the troubles are extending into retirement communities as well.
The Levitt retirement community division has laid off more than 200 workers, defaulted on loans, and has stopped building. Affected projects include Florida active adult communities such as the Seasons at Tradition (Port St. Lucie), the Cascades development in Sarasota, the Cascades at World Golf Village in St. Augustine. Projects in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee have also been halted. One of the ones in South Carolina is its Murrells Inlet project, Seasons. Residents of that community are upset by the many unfinished or unbuilt homes, including a community center that is not complete.
Levitt revolutionized American construction in the unique Long Island “Levittowns” it built on Long Island for returning WW II veterans. The company estimates it has built more than 200,000 homes in the last 78 years. Among the options it is considering is the sale of its remaining assets.