Housing woes lead to Freeman layoffs


FENWICK ISLAND — Feeling the pinch of a sluggish real estate market, Bayside in Fenwick Island has cut nearly 30 percent of its home building staff.The layoffs won’t curtail the project’s final buildout of 1,640 homes, said Patti Grimes, vice president of the community division for Carl M. Freeman Associates.

The Olney-based developer owns Bayside and Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View.

Bayside homes, now a quarter complete, features homes, town homes and condominiums. It also includes a golf course and will feature an upscale grocer in November.

“We’ve had slower sales because of the market,” Grimes said. “We’re not building as many homes today as we had planned, but we’re still going to build it. It just may take a year or two longer.”

Delaware’s declining home sales mirror the problems of the national market, said Walter Molony, National Association of Realtors spokesman.

“There’s just too much supply,” he said. “Builders are ramping back. They’re slowing down construction and cutting inventory.”

Home and town home sales were down about nine percent nationally from last year through July, and condo sales were down seven-and-a-half percent, according to industry figures.

But in Delaware, the housing market has begun correcting itself, said Steve Lefebvre, Home Builders Association of Delaware president.

There have been 30 percent fewer building permits issued for homes this year, he said. These permits are a strong indicator of future building activity.

While cutbacks were needed for Bayside to stay competitive, “no future layoffs are anticipated,” Grimes said.

Twelve people were laid off in the home building division and a sales manager was also discharged.

The staff reductions reduce redundancies among positions in supervision, product development and purchasing, Grimes said.

Carl M. Freeman Associates develops commercial and residential real estate in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Among its shopping centers are the Village of Five Points in Lewes.

The Bayside project is expected to be completed in 10 years, Grimes said.


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