7 Leon Valley businesses sue strip mall owner after being shut down due to fire code violations

Strip malls shut down for about three weeks

By Patty Santos - Reporter

LEON VALLEY, Texas - Seven Leon Valley business owners are suing the owner of two strip malls that were forced to shut down by the city due to a list of fire code violations.

The lawsuit names Rondel Ray and his wife, Micah Ray, the owners of Seneca Plaza and Lebman’s Corral Shopping Centers, accusing them of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and deceptive practices. The plaintiffs are the owners of Spa Catalan, Linda’s Dog Grooming, San Antonio Floral Designs, DB Studios, Boots and Heels, Jackeline’s Salon and one other business.

The strip malls were shut down for about three weeks after the city fire chief said Ray refused to comply with numerous requests to fix dangerous fire hazards.

Maria Rosa Catalan, owner of Spa Catalan, said the stress has caused her health to suffer. She said she suffered a facial paralysis as a result.

“I’m in a bad, bad dream and I can't wake up,” she said. “I had a contract for 10 years, and now, I don’t have nothing. I’m in shock. I can do nothing, nothing.”

Catalan invested her life savings of $80,000 into the suite last year. She said she was thrown out of the suite by the owner and all her investments are gone.

“I’m working very hard for this and he don’t care about me or anyone else,” she said.

Catalan is part of the lawsuit and said she just wants her money.

Leon Valley leaders approved $60,000 to offer up to 10 forgivable loans to business owners impacted who wish to relocate to another facility in the city limits. City Manager Kelly Kuenstler said the program is to help them pay the first and last month’s rent and help with moving expenses. 

“The idea is to keep these businesses in Leon Valley,” she said.

Kuenstler understands that many businesses had invested much more into the buildings.

“What we can do is give them a fresh start,” she said. “We’re interested in showing those businesses that they are important to us, that we want them to stay in Leon Valley. We want them and their customers to be safe.”

Only three businesses have applied for the loans.

Catalan said the loan is not enough for her because of the type of equipment and renovations she will need to do to make her business work.

KSAT has attempted to reach Ray multiple times. Our calls and emails have gone unanswered.

Ray has met the minimum fire code requirements to reopen the strip malls for already-existing stores, but he is not allowed to rent the suites to new businesses.

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