Tempe-based Fulton Homes, one of the most recognizable builders in the Valley, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday.
The filing was confirmed by Brian Karth, clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Arizona. In Chapter 11 proceedings, the filer proposes a plan of reorganization to stay in business and pay creditors over time.
The company didn’t return calls for comment.
Greg Burger, co-partner with RL Brown Housing Reports, a market newsletter, called Fulton Homes a great company run by very strong leadership. “They’ll reorganize and they’ll most likely re-emerge as a major player in the Phoenix housing market,” he said. “The restructuring will allow them to do that. And unfortunately it’s just a sign of the times ... the economic condition that we’re seeing and the general housing market in Phoenix.”
Fulton Homes has numerous communities across the East Valley, including Fulton Ranch in Chandler, Freeman Farms in Gilbert and Ironwood Crossing in Queen Creek.
Fulton Homes was founded by Ira Fulton. According to the company’s Web site, he started in the home building business by accident when he bought Aston Construction Co. from his nephews, intending to phase it out. The company began to grow, so Fulton stuck with it, and under his guidance, Fulton Homes grew from a small construction company to “one of the largest, most profitable private home builders in the country,” according to the site.
Business Week magazine once listed Ira Fulton and his wife, Mary Lou, among the 50 Most Generous Philanthropists along with Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. The couple has contributed more than $160 million to Arizona State University to be distributed between the colleges of education, engineering and other areas of the university. The university includes the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering and the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education.
Through the years, the Fultons have played an active, if not controversial, role in helping the university shed its reputation as a “party school.”
In 2005 Ira Fulton complained after the university’s newspaper published a story on body piercing with a photo of a woman’s bare, pierced breast. The complaint prompted the administration to threaten to cut funding to the paper.