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HOUSTON-Feeling the impacts of a slowing economy and retailer expansion, Weingarten Realty also is slowing expectations for its development program, executives said at the company’s first quarter conference call.

At quarter end, the company’s new development pipeline included 35 properties at various stages of development. While it projects that 15 of those will be stabilized by the end of 2009, the remaining 20 projects will stabilize in 2010 and beyond. Five projects are still awaiting anchors, with negotiations under way for three centers.

“We do see quality retailers looking to commit to new locations,” said Robert Smith, senior VP and director of new development. “We are looking at opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Weingarten is looking at investing in projects being built by some local developers through a preferred-equity program.

“We can help a small developer get a deal and help him take advantage of things,” said Drew Alexander, president and CEO.

For the quarter, funds from operations (FFO) on a diluted per-share basis rose 5% over the first quarter of 2007 to $0.78. Overall occupancy was 93.7% at the end of the first quarter of 2008 compared to 94.4% a year ago. Occupancy for the retail properties was down slightly to 94.8% from 95.4% in the prior year while industrial occupancy was 90.7% compared to 90.8% a year ago. Net income, on a diluted, per-share basis, was $0.34 for the first quarter of 2008, compared to $0.53 per share for the same period of 2007.

Weingarten Realty Investors’ portfolio includes 335 neighborhood and community shopping centers and 81 industrial properties, totaling approximately 74 million sf under management.

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