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Chinese construction lending — with strings attached

BY Brae Canlen

A Chinese bank funding two huge Lennar Corp. housing developments has attached a condition to the loan, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal: Lennar must work with a Chinese state-owned contractor.

The two redevelopment projects, Treasure Island and Hunter’s Point Shipyard in San Francisco, could add as many as 20,000 new housing units to the city, as well as offices and a sporting venue. But Lennar’s $1.7 billion loan from China Development Bank came with a stipulation, the newspaper reported. Lennar has been meeting with China Railroad Construction Corp (CRCC), the newspaper reported. It’s unclear what role the CRCC might play, and whether Lennar is obligated to do business with a Chinese supplier, contractor or some other entity. CCRC recently opened an office in San Mateo, Calif.

Any Chinese contractor working on a San Francisco project would be required to use local, unionized labor for construction, however. A joint venture with a U.S. construction management firm, or an outright acquisition, could possibly satisfy that requirement, the article reported.

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Obituary: Michael D. St. John of Pacific Woodtech

BY Ken Clark

A veteran of the engineered wood product industry, Michael D. St. John died Nov. 29. He was 66.

St. John was integral to the founding of Pacific Woodtech in Burlington, Wash., and its business plan, heading up sales and marketing since 1999. He served as VP and director of the company. He is credited with originating private-labeling in the EWP market.

St. John also worked for Trus Joist for about 22 years. He was a board trustee of APA, chairman of the APA Marketing Advisory Committee and a member on the APA EWS I-joist/SCL Management Committee.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in 1974, where he played football. St. John served in the Navy from 1960 until his Honorable Discharge in 1965, including as a Navy Seal. He was awarded three combat metals.

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At Orgill, a trio of executives retires

BY Ken Clark

Three executives with long tenures retired from Memphis, Tenn.-based Orgill this month: Bill Fondren, Ken Post and Steve East.

Fondren retired as chairman of the board, but he will remain as a board member. Ron Beal will assume the chairman of the board post.

Ken Post was chief merchandise officer, a position to be filled by Brett Hammers. And Steve East was VP advertising. His replacement is Jeff Curler. 

According to Beal, the trio of Fondren, Post and East will be missed for their friendship and professionalism. They also spent a long time planning their succession, he said. “These three are all long-term contributors to Orgill’s success, but the real story is the bench strength we have to move on without missing a beat,” said Beal.

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