The Las Vegas economy was hit with another massive bankruptcy filing Thursday, this one involving developer Larry Canarelli's homebuilding empire.
Canarelli's firm, American West Development Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Las Vegas. Under Chapter 11, companies continue to operate while they reorganize.
The filing said American West has $55.4 million in assets against liabilities of $207.7 million.
Home Builders Research Inc., which tracks Las Vegas-area home sales, said American West had 165 home closings in 2011.
VEGAS INC research shows that in 2010, American West was the eighth-largest builder in the Las Vegas market, with sales of 237 homes.
Bankruptcy records show the company generated revenue of $61.5 million in 2009, growing to $63.7 million in 2010. But in 2011, revenue tumbled to just $12.2 million, the filing said.
American West lately has been selling homes around the Las Vegas Valley in the developments of Coronado Ranch, Silverado Ranch and Highlands Ranch.
The bankruptcy filing by American West comes as the Las Vegas homebuilding industry — hurt badly by the recession — is coming off its worst year in memory.
What's more, the American West bankruptcy follows the 2009 bankruptcy of competitor Jim Rhodes' Las Vegas-area homebuilding empire.
American West said the bankruptcy was filed as part of a prepackaged reorganization. In such cases, lenders realize some losses, though the magnitude of the losses in the American West case wasn't immediately disclosed.
And unlike the Rhodes bankruptcy, American West expects to keep all of its operations.
“The American West Development reorganization is a consensual agreement with the lenders. The company will not be selling any of its assets; rather, additional funds will be invested into the company as it continues to build homes and neighborhoods in Southern Nevada. Day-to-day operations will continue as normal, and there will be no reduction in workforce or services,” said Robert Evans, president of American West Development.
The American West website says, "We are the only local homebuilder who can state they have been building in Las Vegas since 1984."
The website says the company has sold more than 15,000 homes in 71 communities over the years.
Secured creditors listed in the filing include Wells Fargo Bank, owed $44.4 million; Bank of America, owed $24.5 million; a Phoenix office of California Bank & Trust, owed $34.6 million; Comerica Bank of Detroit, owed $9.9 million; a Phoenix office of JPMorgan Chase Bank, owed $34.6 million; an Atlanta office of Key Bank, owed $13.8 million; and a Las Vegas office of U.S. Bank, owed $15.8 million.
The bankruptcy filing listed as creditors several American West employees owed sales commissions; several construction bonding companies; and scores of homeowners with potential home warranty claims