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Mo Meruelo, Mo Questions

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Yesterday downtown developer and landlord Meruelo Maddux Properties, which is considering filing Chapter 11, reported fourth quarter earnings, answering some analysts' questions about the health of the company. Some bits gleaned from the conference call: Union Lofts at 325 W. 8th Street, which opened for leasing early last year, currently has 46 of its 92 units leased (they leased 14 in the last quarter). And in response to an analyst's question about 717 Ninth and the overall downtown rental market, Chairman and CEO Richard Meruelo responds: "Well, I think the market is tougher primarily because there are projects that were suppose to be condominiums that are converting to apartments and we mentioned that before, there’s a property called The Chapman, near the Union Lofts that was a condo that went rental. Specifically at Union Loft, it’s picked up its velocity, it’s been improved since a lot of our marketing plans and efforts have started to bear fruit but it’s still a difficult market out there. The 717 project, we’re anticipating to begin pre-marketing with our third party leasing and property management folks probably in May and June and July. They can actually start delivering occupied units in September/October. So, we might actually get some better sense of the market if we start signing leases in August. But, we’re trying to get a head start specifically on the 717 project because we’re going to do some pre-leasing and reaching out to the community and corporate users, etc." You can read the whole sexy transcript here. [Seeking Alpha]