Centex Helps Keeps S.C. Wild Aided by contributions from Centex Homes Land Legacy Fund, the Conservation Fund purchased 850 acres of hardwood forest and wetland habitat in South Carolina from Stamford, Conn.-headquartered

International Paper. The partners, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, plan to add the property to the 10,590-acre Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge. The newly acquired land, a haven for migratory birds, should be open to the public for recreation in late summer or early fall. Centex Homes' Myrtle Beach division will play a role in the design and construction of a new visitors' center.

Landstar No More As a sign that Landstar Homes has been completely woven into the fabric that is Toll Brothers, the Central Florida builder officially changed its name to Toll Brothers. Landstar, which has nearly a 30-year history of building homes throughout the Orlando area, was acquired by Horsham, Pa.-based Toll Brothers in July 2005.

M/I Homes Gives Grant to NAHB Columbus, Ohio-based M/I Homes announced that the M/I Homes Foundation made a $1 million pledge to the National Housing Endowment Fund. The fund, established by the NAHB, helps advance homeownership. The endowment is expected to help foster college and university partnerships and support industry with training programs.

Builders File Suit in Florida Builders and Realtors in Tallahassee, Fla., officially filed suit against the city's mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance on Feb. 28. The group says that the ordinance, which requires 10 percent of new homes in developments of 50 or more homes to have a price point of less than $159,378 regardless of market rate, is unconstitutional.

The city contends that the ordinance is a lawful reaction to the area's need for more affordable housing. Tallahassee is the only city in Florida to have imposed such mandatory measures, although similar ordinances exist in Boston; Denver; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C. For a deeper discussion of the issue, click on the Ground Control section of Big Builder's February 15 issue, available here.

Investment Fund Buys into M-F Developer The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., a mineral royalty investment fund, purchased a co-controlling interest in multi-family developer Simpson Housing from Mountain West Holdings. As part of the State of Michigan Retirement System, Mountain West has owned more than 90 percent of Simpson since 1995. Although the value of the deal, which is expect to close in March, was undisclosed, the fund says the transaction values Simpson at more than $2 billion.

Tom Bradshaw, director of industrials group at Deutsche Bank, which advised Simpson on the deal, says big builders should pay attention. As one of the largest private multi-family players, Simpson has the ability to be friend or foe as there's “more overlap as big builders move into higher density projects.”

Builders Honored as Energy Star Leaders The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy will applaud 12 home builders for their commitment to energy-efficient building at the Energy Star Partners awards ceremony on March 21 in Washington, D.C.

Winners in the new homes category include Anderson Homes, Aspen Homes of Colorado, Bosgraaf Homes, D.R. Horton—Sacramento, Haven Properties, Segal & Morel, and Winton/Flair Custom Homes.

Astoria Homes, David Powers Homes, Ence Homes, Pardee Homes, and Veridian Homes will also be honored at the ceremony in the category of sustained excellence.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.