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La Villita tenants upset over new city lease plan

City asking shop-owners to re-apply for current leases

Dozens of shop-owners at La Villita are voicing concerns over a new plan for the area that could put them out of business.

The city is planning to ask tenants to re-apply for their current leases.

Larry Ohlenburger has been running his shop Lone Star Mercantile at La Villita for more than 32 years, but after the city presented recommendations to the La Villita Tenants Association last week that would require each tenant to apply and submit a proposal to be considered for a lease, Ohlenburger said he's not sure that he will be able to come back.

"The city has changed the format of my building from a retail mix to a gallery," said Ohlenberger, "which  puts me out of business."

Lone Star Mercantile as it stands now is a retail shop, but under the new plan, the recommended use for the lease is a gallery.

Next door, the Village Gallery is said to be used as retail space, according to the city's new plan.

Sebastian Guajardo, special projects manager for the city's Department of Culture and Creative Development, said the request for proposals is the most fair and effective way to select tenants for La Villita.

"Those that are rated highest, based upon their scores, would be the ones that would be entered into leases with," said Guajardo. "So some of the current tenants, based upon their proposal, may not be rated as high as others. We don't know that until we issue the (Request For Proposal)."

Jerome Stowe, owner of Casa Manos Alegres, said this is the first time the city has required proposals from its 24 tenants all at once.

Stowe said for businesses like his own, which has been around for more than 43 years, they are supportive of change and would like to be a part of the mayor's 2020 vision, but they feel like they are being kicked out.

"We humbly ask all the people here in San Antonio to please support our cause," said Stowe. "Speak up -- speak to the mayor to help us find a better resolution to keeping our businesses here in LaVilliata and embracing the changes of 2020."

For a list of recent stories Stephanie Serna has done, click here.

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