Today’s Star-Ledger takes a look at the “dismal” year that Red Bank-based Hovnanian Enterprises has had. And the coming year doesn’t look at lot brighter.

But to make that point, the page-one story kicks off with an an anecdote that appears to confuse, or perhaps conflate, members of the Hovnanian family:

The Hovnanians have been building homes in New Jersey for almost a half-century, but the measure of their success was never more indelibly stamped than in a 1992 mishap, when the family’s 123-foot yacht sank off Cape May.

Outfitted with teak paneling, gold-plated fixtures and other luxuries, the $10 million sport-fishing boat seemed more worthy of an oil sheik than crafters of humble condos.

In the years since, Hovnanian Enterprises has grown into the nation’s sixth-largest homebuilder, snapping up smaller businesses and expanding into a total of 19 states. Riding the great housing boom of the past decade, the company built developments as fast as it could, with homebuyers queuing up overnight to sign sales contracts like groupies camping out for Hannah Montana tickets.

The credit crunch and a glut of unsold homes has put an end to those glory days, however. And this time, it’s the Red Bank company itself that’s taking on water.

But the yacht belonged to Hirair Hovnanian, a brother of the man who founded and controlled Hovnanian Enterprises.

Hirair Hovnanian was one of four Armenian immigrant brothers who decades ago went their separate ways as builders. His Toms River homebuilding company, Hovsons, was not part of Hovnanian Enterprises.

Hovnanian Enterprises was started in 1959 by Hirair’s brother, Kevork Hovnanian, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Kevork Hovnanian, 83, is still the company’s chairman. His 50-year-old son, Ara, is its CEO and president. They have homes in Rumson.

Here’s an Aug. 14, 1992 Associated Press account of the sinking of the Lady Anna: Download out.pdf.

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