U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Raymond Ray has allowed KeyBank and Bank of America to take back their properties in what may be another sign that famed builder Levitt and Sons 78-year run is done. Although Levitt and Sons would not release any further details to BUILDER Online, representatives did confirm that reports in the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel are accurate.
Levitt and Sons currently owes Bank of America $103.9 million; KeyBank is owed $96.5 million. Tuesday's ruling means both banks can sue to take over the lots (which are mostly in north and central Florida) through foreclosure, which would allow the banks to sell the lots.
Levitt and Sons, which halted all projects in October, is continuing to negotiate with lenders Wachovia Bank (owed $112.5 million); Regions Bank (owed $24.7 million); and Ohio Savings Bank (owed $1.1 million).
Levitt and Sons is best known for its Levittown community in Long Island, N.Y., which was developed for soldiers returning from World War II. On the company's Web site, the builder says it has built over 200,000 homes throughout the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Europe.
Levitt and Sons was ranked No. 50 on the 2006 BUILDER 100.
In other Levitt and Sons news, parent company Levitt Corp. CEO Alan B. Levan issued the following internal statement concerning financial assistance for employees who are impacted by the builder's bankruptcy filling:
"I know the uncertainty of the last few months has been difficult for everyone at Levitt and Sons. I want you to know how much we appreciate your hard work and dedication as Levitt and Sons has struggled with an unprecedented downturn in the home building industry.
"We know that the recent reductions in force have been a hardship for many of you and your families. With that in mind, I am pleased to report that Levitt Corp. will establish a fund to provide financial assistance to employees of Levitt and Sons who were or will be adversely impacted by the Chapter 11 filing. The new fund will pay the separation pay of Levitt and Sons' former employees that Levitt and Sons is unable to pay due to limitations mandated by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. These funds will track the Levitt and Sons pre-bankruptcy separation policies and practices, including pre-bankruptcy medical benefit claims under the Levitt and Sons' health plan.
"The details of this program will be available in the near future. Thank you for the tremendous dedication and commitment you have demonstrated in serving Levitt and Sons and its customers during these challenging times."