Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tempe-based T.W. Lewis to wind down operations in 2012

Tempe-based homebuilder T.W. Lewis says it has sold its remaining land assets to a Texas builder and will wind down the company in 2012.

Tom Lewis, T.W. Lewis' founder and CEO, said Wednesday that David Weekley Homes, a privately held builder based in Houston, would assume all the company's existing employees, offices and active subdivisions over the coming year.

Lewis said the deal was not technically a merger or acquisition because Weekley was not acquiring the legal entity known as T.W. Lewis.

Consumers hardly will notice any difference when Weekley takes over operations, Lewis said.

Under an unusual partnership agreement, he said, Weekley will continue building out the company's 12 actively selling subdivisions in the Phoenix area.

"It will be the same product, the same floor plans, the same contractor partners and the same sales associates," Lewis said.

Weekley will begin selling new homes in those communities under the brand "T.W. Lewis Collection by David Weekley Homes," he said.

Lewis said the company had about 80 homes in various stages of completion that would continue to belong to T.W. Lewis until they are sold to homebuyers.

T.W. Lewis, a 20-year-old entity, is known as a high-end builder. Its average sale price during the housing boom was about $800,000 and currently is about $400,000, Lewis said.

Under its new leadership, the company most likely will expand the types of products it builds to include lower-priced homes, he said.

Lewis said that employees, contractors and home-warranty holders already had been informed of the change in ownership and that none should be negatively affected.

Weekley was founded in 1976 and is one of the largest privately held homebuilders in the U.S. With the addition of the Phoenix market, it will have operations in 16 metro areas in eight states, according to the company's website.

As for the 62-year-old T.W. Lewis founder, he will become a part-owner in Weekley and said he plans to remain actively involved in the company's management for five years.

Lewis said he also plans to act as a land banker, developing and optioning additional lots for sale to Weekley, as well as serving as a consultant to the company.

After that, Lewis said, he plans to retire.

"I've been a homebuilder for a long time," he said.

Lewis said the past few years had been challenging for homebuilders at all points on the price spectrum.

"In a word, it has been tough," he said.

by J. Craig Anderson The Arizona Republic Sept. 15, 2011 04:44 PM

Tempe-based T.W. Lewis to wind down operations in 2012

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