Latino Books y Mas is filing a lawsuit against Wessman Development, after getting notice they're being evicted from the Desert Fashion Plaza, claiming breach of contract, fraud and abuse of process. But, Wessman Development is standing by it's business plan for demolition. Ramirez says "We filed the lawsuit because we feel this eviction is illegal based on fraudulent information. By that I mean they're basing it on cause 26 in my contract which calls for eminent domain. They say this property went through eminent domain and it didn't."
In July, 2011 the city told Wessman they were going to adopt a resolution of necessity, to acquire the property by eminent domain.
As part of the negotiations, the city agreed not to proceed with eminent domain, if Wessman entered into the project financing agreement.
And all money Wessman got from that sale had to be used for the rest of the Fashion Plaza. Then in June 2012, the city acquired large sections of the project and that acquisition gave the landlord the right to terminate the bookstore lease, resulting in the fight. Ramirez says, "A David and Goliath fight against Wessman. I had a lot of respect for Mr. Wessman but boy that 's evaporating very quickly."
We contacted Michael Braun, Senior Vice President for Wessman Development for a response. He referred us to their lawyer, Emily Hemphill. She says, "We have received the complaint filed by the owner of the Latino Books y Mas. Having reviewed it, this lawsuit is a meritless attempt by the Bookstore owner to obtain a windfall the ultimate cost of which would be borne not just by Wessman but by the City in general."
Hemphill tells us Wessman agreed to physically move the store for Mr. Ramirez, but he rejected the offers and demanded Wessman purchase his inventory, and pay him a profit, all totalling nearly $700,000.00. She also says when he signed the lease, he got a 50% break on rent. She says Wessman's staff has worked for 6 weeks on relocation for Books y Mas. Ramirez says, "I know it comes up when we offered them a relocation package, but there is nothing. Show me verifiable evidence, meaning paperwork a memo or e-mail, there is none."
Other business owners in the Fashion Plaza tells us they have also been working with Wessman on relocation, with no problem. Moussa Raei owns Ignition Coffee Lounge. He says, "They be working with us and giving us lots of choices. They've been very nice and courteous to us and give us a lot of different places to go see."
And in the end they just want what's best for Palm Springs and to see the Desert Fashion Plaza complete. Raei says, "We have to help each other and talk to each other and work things out. That's the only way to do it because we a big family here."