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LandSource to reorganize

Posted: July 20, 2009 11:05 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2009 11:00 a.m.
 
LandSource, owner of Santa Clarita-based Newhall Land and Farming, will emerge from bankruptcy with $90 million in cash and a new company name after a federal court approved a reorganization plan on Monday.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin J. Carey accepted a plan that allows LandSource to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as the newly named Newhall Land Development.

Lennar Corp., one of the owners of LandSource Communities Development, announced Monday that the plan allows the Miami-based home builder to buy about 15 percent of the Newhall Ranch project, along with other properties, for approximately $140 million.

Lennar had a 16 percent stake in LandSource before falling land prices pushed the venture into Chapter 11 protection last June.

Creditors in the bankruptcy case are set to get equity in exchange for the more than $1 billion they were owed.

Newhall Land Development will still boast The Newhall Land and Farming Company as its primary holding, said Marlee Lauffer, Newhall Land and Farming spokeswoman.

The plan allows Newhall Land and Farming to focus on developing homes in the Santa Clarita Valley, she said.

"Today's action by the bankruptcy court is a very positive outcome for Newhall Land and Farming," Lauffer said. "We can continue to focus on planning the remaining parts of Valencia and on our Newhall Ranch project."

Rick Patterson, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation, said the move could affect the future of a high school in Castaic.

"I'm pleased that there were positive compromises made, especially for the benefit of local creditors," Patterson said. "I hope that that opens the door for Newhall Land (and Farming) to consider waiving the deed restriction on the Commerce Center property."

The William S. Hart Union High School District had pursued property just outside the Valencia Commerce Center for a high school location.

However, it met with opposition from businesses in the center, and also found that a school was banned at the site under an agreement between Newhall Land and Farming and the property owner.

Patterson suggested Newhall Land and Farming might now revise its stance on the agreement.

The Facilities Foundation is charged with finding and purchasing school sites for the Hart district. A high school in Castaic has been in the works for some nine years and still hasn't found a home.

The Associated Press and Managing Editor Lila Littlejohn contributed to this report.

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