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LOS ANGELES-Meruelo Maddux Properties will convert the 137,000-sf former Union Bank & Trust Co. offices to condominiums, apartments and retail space in a $75-million project at the gateway to the Downtown Fashion District. The developer recently acquired the historic office building for $12 million in a sale brokered by Eric Kessler in the downtown Los Angeles office of GVA Daum.Meruelo, whose principals are Richard Meruelo and John Maddux, bought the property from 760 Hill Partners LLC, with Kessler representing both the buyer and the seller. Meruelo Maddux Properties owns approximately 90 properties and 70 acres blanketing an area between the Los Angeles River, the Harbor (110) Freeway and the Hollywood (101) Freeway. The 12-story Union Bank & Trust Co. building, at the northeast corner of 8th and Hill streets, was erected in 1923 and was expanded five years later.Kessler says the project is an example of the type of conversion destined to “bridge the gap between the hipster lofts of the artist district and the opulent lofts being erected in the South Park district.” According to Maddux, the building is entitled for conversion to residential uses based on plans prepared by Killefer, Flammang Architects of Santa Monica. He notes that Killefer, Flammang helped draft the adaptive re-use ordinance for the City of Los Angeles, which facilitates the conversion of older, historic office buildings.Besides the 90 condominium/apartment units designed for the currently vacant building, plans call for a restaurant and retail uses in the ground level space, which formerly served as a bank branch. In addition, the basement includes a large vault that will be converted to a lounge serving the restaurant, Maddux says.The residential units will be created on floors two through 12, ranging from 700 sf to 1,900 sf, with an average of 900 sf. The units are expected to be available in the next 12 to 14 months.

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