WCI Communities, Inc. announced Wednesday that it will slash its workforce in response to "continued soft demand in its markets." About 575 employees will be laid off, which is expected to generate annual savings of $46 million in salaries and benefits. In addition, the Bonita Springs-based company says David Fry will assume the post of chief operating officer, recently left vacant by Christopher J. Hanlon. Fry will be responsible for WCI's Florida Tower Homebuilding in addition to his other responsibilities.

"This prolonged downturn requires that we continue to assess our overhead and make reductions in order to remain viable through the trough of this cycle," said Jerry Starkey, CEO. "We have been fortunate to retain the talent needed to navigate this tough time in the industry, and we believe we have the key leaders in place to respond to increased demand - whenever that may occur. Our remaining workforce of roughly 2,100 employees represents a 46 percent reduction from our peak employment in mid 2006 of 3,889 employees."

The company's board of directors also agreed to significantly reduce its compensation. Six board members (Don E. Ackerman, Nicholas Graziano, Carl Icahn, Keith Meister, David Schechter, and Craig Thomas) will forgo all director compensation for the balance of calendar year 2007 and for all of calendar year 2008.

Earlier this year, WCI, which operates in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia, rejected billionaire Carl Icahn's $22-per-share takeover bid only to later vote him on to the builder's board of directors.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.