The wrecking ball is slated to come down on the Desert Fashion Plaza, in the winter of 2013. But before that happens, current business owners are being told to get out of the way. The lone bookstore on Palm Canyon Dr. calls the way they're being forced out "unjust" and "unamerican." They've even painted their front window with the words, "Help! Save our book store. Stop the eviction!Luciano Ramirez, owner of Books y Mas asks , "Is this the way to start the renovation of the mall, by throwing us out?"
On August 16th, Luciano Ramirez received notification that he being evicted from the Desert Fashion Plaza. Ramirez says, "We get a letter from the lawyer saying they're evicting us based on this property went through eminent domain?"
That's something developer John Wessman actually rejected and a term that's never used in the letter. City manager, David Ready says, "Basically in lieu of eminent domain, both parties agreed we'd go forward with the project we have now. So, that's the eminent domain trigger that both the city and Wessman agreed to."
Ramirez signed a 5-year lease and says he was told his section of the plaza would only undergo façade improvements, when in fact the city manager tells us the whole thing is coming down. Ramirez also tells us he was a strong supporter of Measure J, the penny sales tax, something he says is backfiring on him. He says, "The money we collect here in sales tax and the additional penny...that money we give to the state, that was given to the city, that was given to John Wessman is now being used to evict us. How ironic is that?"
Mr. Ramirez tells us he painted his windows for two reasons. First to get the message across that he's been a model tenant and second he hopes it motivates people to call Wessman development and ask why he's being evicted.
Ready tells us John Wessman has been working with each tenant individually offering them relocation packages, something Ramirez wasn't satisfied with.
Ramirez tells us, "I said no, we're not moving to Las Flores. Thursdays and Saturdays are the best nights here. If you go to Tahquitz it's all dark and all the stores are closed."
Ready says the fact that Ramirez didn't take the relocation, is the reason why he's been given 30 days but that a meeting is scheduled with Ramirez on Wednesday and he's hoping for the best. Ready says, "We have every reason to believe they'll come to an amicable resolution and we can move this project forward."