Landmark Homes 'winding down' Will finish 14 houses, but not start new ones

May 09, 1997|By Robert Nusgart | Robert Nusgart,SUN STAFF

Richard M. Yaffe, president of Landmark Homes Inc., said yesterday that the beleaguered company is "winding down" and will cease as an active homebuilder.

Yaffe, who recently split with partner Gary Houston, said the company has not filed for bankruptcy court protection and intends to complete 14 homes under construction. He said it will honor claims made by homeowners whose homes are still under warranty.

Rumors that the Towson-based company, which has had a number of lawsuits filed against it, was in bankruptcy proceedings and was going out of business had been circulating in the local building industry.

"Landmark is not out of business; Landmark is just winding down," Yaffe, 41, said.

"I figure it will take a year, year-and-a-half to take care of cleaning everything up, take care of the service work. It's just not that we are throwing our hands up and walking away. We plan on staying around but winding down, hopefully, to everyone's satisfaction.

"I have no intention of filing for bankruptcy. There was discussion, but it was not the avenue that I wanted to take," he said. "What we plan on doing is trying to complete all the houses that are under construction and get those people in and continue to work on the service that is outstanding and the warranty work. That's what our goal is. We're not focused on selling any more."

Houston could not be reached for comment.

The 14 homes Landmark intends to finish constructing are in Governor's Run and Watermill in Howard County, Timberwood in Harford County, Piney Orchard in Anne Arundel County and Lionswood in Baltimore County.

The company, which also operated under the names of Landcon Inc., Continental Landmark Inc. and Continental Affiliates, has been the target of more than a dozen suits filed during the last two years in Baltimore County Circuit Court. The latest suits were filed Tuesday by 84 Lumber and May 2 by a former sales agent.

84 Lumber filed petitions seeking mechanics' liens against Landcon Inc. for materials used in construction on two lots in Seminary Overlook in Lutherville and five lots in the Lionswood development in Owings Mills.

The company was also sued for nonpayment by Ridge Lumber Co. and Maryland Lumber Co. Ridge Lumber filed for bankruptcy last fall and has since liquidated; Maryland Lumber is in bankruptcy proceedings.

A suit filed last week by Patricia Ann Scherer of Severn, a former sales agent for Landmark who was laid off when the company cut back, claims that she was owed commissions of $9,192. She is seeking $27,576, triple the damages, as provided under Maryland law. She is also asking for $1,484 she claims she is owed as part of a severance package.

Landmark, which began in 1986 and built award-winning upscale homes, has dwindled to nine people from a high of about 110, Yaffe said. As late as 1995 the company was still the 12th-largest builder in the Baltimore metropolitan area in terms of market share, but last year dropped out of the top 20.

Yaffe said he and Houston had philosophical differences over which way to move the company. Yaffe said he wanted to be more of a small builder, and that apparently was in contrast with Houston's ideas.

Yaffe, meanwhile, has created a new company -- Butler Homes (( Inc. -- and is building his first set of single-family homes in the Winterset development of Ownings Mills New Town.

Pub Date: 5/09/97

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