Eric A. Wittenberg, president and CEO of Denver-based McStain Neighborhoods, has stepped aside to cut costs. Tom Hoyt, the company's founder and chairman, has taken over Wittenberg's responsibilities.

"You just have to be real about what you can and can't do," Hoyt said of the change. "We have had to adjust to the run rate."

Wittenberg is the second builder CEO in the last month who stepped down to cut company costs. Tom Eggleston, former CEO of C.P. Morgan, also recently left his position.

Wittenberg, who was at McStain for seven years, said his departure came after the company decided to take an even more pessimistic view of its already pessimistic market projections and it became clear that another round of cuts would be necessary.

"It became pretty evident that the company couldn't afford two expensive leaders, me and the founder," Wittenberg said. "It's tough to put your own name on the cut list."

But he said it was the right thing to do for the company, to give it a better chance of surviving and being well-positioned to grow again when the market gets better.

Wittenberg, who started his career in banking, said he is looking at other opportunities and is casting a wide net that might extend beyond home building.

"I really have a passion for building houses and communities, but I also have a strong passion for sustainability," he said. McStain was a strong and early leader in adopting sustainable green building practices.

In the meantime, Wittenberg said he continues to do consulting work for McStain. He's also gotten a few calls related to jobs in the Middle East where a building boom has created a demand for building professionals.

"Every change, whether it's intended or not, it gives you the opportunity to take stock," he said.