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After 112 years, California lumberyard announces plans to close

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Minton’s Lumber & Supply, which opened in 1897 in Mountain View, Calif., is planning to close to make way for a 214-unit apartment complex, the Palo Alto Daily News reported.

Prometheus Real Estate Group presented its latest plans to develop the complex at a Mountain View City Council meeting earlier in June. It could take up to two years for Prometheus to work through the necessary processes and permits and start building, during which time Minton’s Lumber & Supply will remain open.

The lumber business was established in 1897 as Parkinson Bros. Lumber & Hardware and was purchased by Earl D. Minton in 1911. The business stayed in the Minton family until 1970, when Owens Minton sold it to his assistant general manager, Herb Eaton and his wife Mary Jean. Today, the Eaton’s daughter Debby Schulz runs the business.

The 3.36-acre property is in a prime location a couple of blocks from downtown and across the street from the Mountain View Caltrain, VTA Light Rail and bus station, the article said.

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Tembec cancels mill shutdown

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Temiscaming, Quebec-based Tembec announced that it has canceled the two-week shutdown of its Skookumchuck pulp mill, which was set to begin on June 29.

Positive changes in the operating environment, including the effect of the Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program announced by the federal government, led to the company’s decision.

“While market conditions remain difficult, the recently announced Green Transformation Program and some modest improvement in pulp pricing and in fiber economics have sufficiently altered operating conditions to the point where running the mill is a better course of action,” said Yvon Pelletier, executive VP and president of the Pulp Group. “However, the operating environment remains challenging. In particular, the availability of economically viable fiber continues to be an issue.”

Tembec will monitor economic and market conditions and will adjust operating rates accordingly, the company said.

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State of the Nation’s Housing

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Astudy released today by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University finds that the housing downturn — the worst in generations — continues to grind on.

The positive news is there has been some stabilization in home building and home sales in the spring. Also, long-term demographics for future demand are strong. But real home prices continued to fall, and foreclosures mount in most areas in the first quarter of 2009. With mortgage interest rates heading higher in June and the economy still contracting, a sustained recovery for housing still faces an uphill climb, according to the report.

“Although there are some signs of improvement or at least steadiness in new construction and sales,” said Nicolas Retsinas, director of the Joint Center, “housing starts stand near 60+ year lows, and any life in home sales is coming from distressed foreclosure sales, temporary first-time buyer tax credits, and low interest rates that moved higher in recent weeks.”

In May, the latest month for which statistics are available, housing starts increased 17% over the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 532,000. A year ago, the rate of housing starts was 982,000.

Housing demand has withered under the weight of job losses, house price deflation and tighter credit standards, the report concludes. First-time home buyers are struggling to meet today’s stricter underwriting guidelines, household growth is well below long-term trends, and immigration has slowed; as a result, the share of homes for sale and vacancies stand at near record levels despite sharp decreases in housing production. “The best that can be said of the market is that house price corrections and steep cuts in housing production are creating the conditions that will lead to an eventual recovery,” remarked Eric Belsky, executive director of the Joint Center. “For now, markets remain under considerable stress.”

Challenges are formidable and include soaring foreclosures, millions of homeowners stuck in homes worth less than the amount they owe on their mortgage and falling rental property values. Still, the State of the Nation’s Housing report concludes that the demographic moorings of future demand remain strong. The largest generation in American history will be reaching young adulthood in record numbers over the next decade. As a result, even under a set of household projections that assume annual immigration falls some 40% below the average of the first half of this decade to just half of U.S. Census Bureau immigration projections, household growth from 2010 to 2020 should still rival the solid performance in the 1995 to 2005 period. Even if immigration slows considerably, minorities will still account for about three-quarters of household growth, according to the report.

“With the echo baby boom driving demand for starter homes and apartments and the baby boom powering demand for homes suited to older Americans,” said Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, “the design professions will be called upon to deploy new technologies and designs to meet the aesthetic tastes and functional needs of a new, more diverse younger generation on the one hand and a generation in need of home modifications to help them age more safely and healthfully in place on the other.”

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