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Palm Springs independent bookstore fights over lost lease

September 05, 2012|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Latino Books y Mas in Palm Springs.
Latino Books y Mas in Palm Springs. (Latino Books y Mas )

Tonight the Palm Springs City Council will get a visit from Nacho Libro, a popular character who reads to Coachella Valley children. Nacho Libro will be there to support Latino Books y Mas, a bookstore under threat.

Latino Books y Mas, known as the last independent bookstore in Palm Springs, is current on its lease, which runs through March 2015. But owner Luciano Ramirez received a notice Aug. 16 that his lease was being terminated 2½ years early and he would have to move out by Sept. 15.

The mall in which the bookstore is located, Desert Fashion Plaza, has been tagged for a $100-million redevelopment. Described by the Desert Sun newspaper as a "largely defunct shopping mall," its other tenants include an AT&T store and a California Pizza Kitchen.

The redevelopment of the 13-acre site is being driven, in part, by the city of Palm Springs, which acquired part of the property in June.

The Desert Sun reports, "Setting the process in motion was acquisition of part of the property by the city on June 27, according to a letter sent to Ramirez by Emily Pern Hemphill, legal representation for Palm Springs Promenade. According to language in the contract, if any part of the project is 'taken or appropriated,' the landlord can then terminate the lease contract within 60 days." And that's what has happened.

The multimillion-dollar improvement plan is being funded in part by Measure J, a voter-approved tax hike.

Ramirez asked KESO-TV, "Is this the way to start the renovation of the mall, by throwing us out?"

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