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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-Locally based Levitt Corp.’s earnings dropped 55% this second quarter versus the same quarter a year ago; revenues fell 25%; and home building sales decreased 14%. During a conference call, Alan Levan, CEO, described “an intentional slowdown” in order to build inventory and realign the sales-to-delivery cycle in what he called a “transitional year” for the company.

“Our objective is to replenish inventory,” he said, noting that the company is opening several communities during the second half that “will put a lot more saleable inventory in the market to get us to the level we need to resume in 2006.” Nine new communities–the four largest of which are aimed at the active adult demographic–are slated to open during the remainder of the year. They have an aggregate of 4,301 units. Five are in Florida, and the others are in Georgia and Tennessee.

The master-planned Tradition community in Port St. Lucie has closed 500 homes, Levan said, and 2,000 are under construction. It is eventually planned to contain 18,000 homes. This fall Village at Tradition, a 23-acre town center of office and retail space, is scheduled to open. “We have a Publix anchor,” he said. “We’re now also putting the final touches on a planned 500,000-sf retail power center there that we’ll announce within the next few months.”

In the third quarter, the company will close on the acquisition of a 350-acre parcel in South Carolina “outside the established retirement areas of Hilton Head and Savannah,” Levan said. The community will be patterned after the Port St. Lucie project and is zoned to contain 9,500 residential units and 1.5 million sf of commercial space. It is targeted to “pre-retirement and retirement customers,” he said, “both of which have long been coming to Hilton Head and Savannah.”

Another initiative calls for an effort to raise the Levitt homebuilder proportion of sales in the company’s communities to 20% of all. At Tradition, it is about 20% with the remainder sold to other homebuilders.

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