There's one aspect of the housing market decline that's not been fully told. Many reports suggest that the inventory of new homes remains at a steady, elevated rate. Much of our best work still remains ready to be used.

When I visited my mother on Galveston Island on New Year's Day, I read an interesting story in the Galvestonian newspaper. The article was about a recently constructed, high-end apartment/condo complex.

The striking, white concrete structure is on my jogging path to the East Beach. The eight-story housing project was supposed to stand as a beacon of the city's development. Some of the upper beachfront condominiums are said to be selling for more than a $1 million. More than just housing, the complex was supposed to be a development anchor. Several new businesses hope to make a go of it.

The story was far from encouraging. The article told of a group of real estate investors who were hoping to buy the new icon at a sheriff's auction. The owner-developer defaulted on his loan, and the mortgage holder had sought repayment.

The financial problems have had multiple effects on the community. First, there are those buyers whose move-ins have been substantially delayed. Second, several of the new businesses have been forced to remain shut as the owner mulled through his problems. Then, there are those neighboring property owners whose redevelopment plans are also on hold.

But what about those who built the structure? I had a chance to speak with the construction project manager for JJ Lean. When I visited his site, I could tell he was proud of his team's work. We talked about about the interdependency between a producer and concrete contractor. His frank opinions provided me at least one great story concept.

It must be difficult to drive past the striking structure knowing that its ultimate use is still in limbo. And then there are the workers and drivers who provided the concrete. The other craftspersons also must feel some loss.

How many of you have also experienced unfinished projects? When I was an area manager, I had to file hundreds of lies, trying to recoup payments. I had also viewed my job in terms of money. Now that I'm older, I'm realizing that while money is important, value is more than just payment.

As if that bit of news in Galveston wasn't bad enough, a few days later the same newspaper reported that a masked gunman robbed the bank that had provided the original loan. I just hope it wasn't an unhappy concrete truck driver.

Rick Yelton
Editor in Chief
ryelton@hanleywood.com