In Photos: East Side Piñata Shop Owners Surprised to Find Building Demolished
Monica and Sergio Lejarazu say they were surprised Thursday morning to find their party supply shop on Cesar Chavez, Jumpolin, being demolished.
Update Saturday 11 p.m. Jordan French said via email that he plans to "rent the existing commercial space to a green-conscious non-profit or a low-impact consulting firm." He also said that the shop owners received eviction notices in "October, December (twice) and January." The reddit thread about this situation here includes a response from a user who says he is the property owner.
Update 6:30 p.m. Rusthoven says the demolition permit was filed by a contractor who was authorized to file the permit by the property owner, listed as Jordan French. A man by that same name, along with a partner Darius Fisher, ran a firm called Wiki-PR, which was banned from Wikipedia in 2013 when the online encyclopedia found out the company used sockpuppet accounts to edit information for clients. Read more about Wiki-PR on (where else?) Wikipedia. Travis County information indicates that a Jordan French and a Darius Fisher both became owners of the Jumpolin property at 1401 E. Cesar Chavez in October 2014. The prior owner, listed as Donald William on the Travis County website, is also listed as owner on the demolition permit, but William confirmed via phone this evening that he is no longer the owner. The permit says that the proposed use for the land is "general retail sales."
Update 3:36 p.m. Jerry Rusthoven with the Austin city planning commission confirmed that the property owner filed the correct permit application for the demolition, and the permit was approved by the city on Jan. 23. The city does not mail out notices for standard demolition projects, he says. Once the city issues a permit, the issue becomes a "private" one between the property owner and the tenant.
Rusthoven says that the number listed for French is out of service.
The permit paperwork also includes a note signed by a Jeff Love authorizing the contractor to file the permit on behalf of the property owners. Love's signature indicates he is the owner of Austin-based Status Labs, which is this business.
In 2014, Sergio Lejarazus made the news when he was arrested for his involvement in a bike theft ring.
The shop had been open for eight years, and the Lejarazuses say they still had two years left on their lease. But, according to city officials, the demolition was within the property owner's rights.
The crew demolished the building with all the merchandise still inside. Crew members were handing out piñatas to passersby prior to the demolition.
On Jumpolin's Facebook page, Sergio Lejarazus posted that the loss was "devastating."
"We build our business from scratch, and these people destroyed 8 years of hard work and perseverance in a few minutes," his post says.
On Friday, a crew erected a fence around the remains of the building.
The owners say that they plan to re-open elsewhere.