Mega Acquisition Fortune Brands, a consumer brands company based in Deerfield, Ill., has agreed to acquire building products company SBR through a tax-free merger that will put Simonton Windows, SimEx, Fypon, Hy-Lite Products, and Dixie-Pacific under the Fortune umbrella. There are no planned employee cutbacks or facility closings as part of the deal, the companies say. Fortune Brands includes Moen faucets, MasterBrand Cabinets, and Therma-Tru doors.—N.F. Maynard
N.J.'s Domain The New Jersey Supreme Court is hearing a case that will determine whether a municipality can use eminent domain to acquire property to preserve open space and slow development. The NAHB filed a brief in the case, which dates back to 2002, when the township of Mt. Laurel condemned a 16-acre tract owned by Mi-Pro Homes. The township wants to turn the land into a park. The NAHB intervened in the case because prior to the condemnation, Mi-Pro had obtained planning board approval to build 23 homes on the land. The township claims that Mi-Pro did not have final approval and that condemning the land for a park is a valid public purpose.—S. Zurier
BIG DEALS A Private Matter William Lyon, chairman and CEO of Newport Beach, Calif.–based William Lyon Homes, has proposed to take the publicly held company private. He offered in March to buy all shares of the company's stock not already owned by him or two family trusts for $93 per share. Unless the offer is extended, Lyon's purchase will be effective April 13. This offer follows a similar, but unsuccessful, offer last year by Lyon to buy outstanding shares for $82 each. At press time, the company's stock stood at $95.19.—M. Mariani
Aging Boomer Bonanza Pulte Homes told analysts and investors to expect the “majority” of its sales growth in 2006 to come from its Del Webb division, which specializes in large active adult communities. Pulte projects that its active adult closings would increase by 31 percent over 2005 totals, to 19,000 units. On the other hand, the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.–based builder expects its traditional home sales to increase by between 870 and 2,870 units, to a total of 32,000 to 34,000 homes.—J. Caulfield
Master Demand In 2004, 18 master planned communities nationwide reported sales of more than 1,000 homes. But in 2005 that number dropped to 13, according to Robert Charles Lesser & Co., an independent real estate advisory firm that has tracked master planned communities rankings since 1994. One explanation for the slowdown may be that many of the large communities launched in the 1980s and 1990s are now nearing sell-out. If this year's top five rankings are any indication, Florida and Las Vegas are the places to be, and active adult is hitting its prime. The Villages outside Orlando, Fla., with 4,262 sales in 2005, retains its position as the best-selling master planned community in the country for the third straight year.—J. Sullivan
Real College The Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors raised $5 million to create a construction college at Arizona State University (ASU). Now the group is asking the state legislature for $20 million to help build the Del E. Webb School of Construction at ASU. If the plan moves forward, the school would be the first construction school with full college status. The trade group wants the construction school to sit on ASU's main campus, where students could take courses at ASU's engineering, architecture, business, and law schools. The Webb School would offer courses in environmental management, civil engineering, housing, and materials and process management.—S.Z.
Solution Nixed Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell recently vetoed a bill—the Residential Construction Dispute Resolution Act—that would have established an arbitration process between homeowners and contractors outside of court, but which Rendell said failed to address rising liability insurance costs and could lead to more litigation. Rendell favors registering builders and contractors with the state, as well as “appropriate public reporting requirements.” He also wants to establish a fund to compensate victims for damages caused by unscrupulous builders “who do not have insurance and cannot, or will not, pay for the full value of the problems they create.”—J.C.
Digital Revolution From home theaters to security to climate control and more, new homes are going high-tech. To educate builders about this notable—and decidedly profitable—development, BUILDER publisher Hanley Wood, LLC has created HANLEY WOOD'S DIGITAL HOME, which is devoted to the burgeoning installed electronics market. The second issue will appear this summer. — B. Agnese