Miracle Mile Stores Forced to Close Hope Landlord will Comply with City’s Demands

STOCKTON -- To say that the business owners of the nine stores forced to shut down in Stockton are frustrated would be an understatement. They’re furious.

"It's a lot of mixed feelings from sadness, to anger, to disappointment," said Luis Ortega, a co-owner of Casa Flores. "But I mean, our hands are tied. There's nothing we can do."

Casa Flores is a Stockton staple that has been a part of the Miracle Mile neighborhood for 26 years. Their loyal employees have been with them for just as long.

"Our workers are spread out right now trying to find jobs,” Ortega explained.

Brenda Sandigo, owner of Gusty’s Wings told FOX40 she’s also worried about her staff.

“We're done," Sandigo said. "We gotta find out what to do next. Figure things out."

On each of the businesses are "Notice to Vacate" flyers that were issued by the City of Stockton on Wednesday.

City officials have cited a number of fire and safety hazards that have plagued the building for the last five years. They said the property owner, Christopher Bennitt, failed to fix the problems. They add, the forced move was necessary in order to prevent a tragedy.

"I just wish they (the city) would have given would have given us some time to figure things out,” Sandigo said.

While so much is in limbo, Ed Wanket with San Joaquin County said there are resources through the county’s work net that may help those now unemployed.

"If we can get them into our centers, optimistically, we can find them jobs fairly quickly,” Wanket, an economic development analyst said.

For business owners and their employees who have helped run these stores, the hope is that Bennitt fixes the long list of issues.

"We don't know if he's going to fix some of these problems," Ortega told FOX40. "And even if he does, it's going to take more than six to 12 months.”

Bennitt’s attorney released a statement, responding in part:

“In short, there is no doubt the City could have handled this much differently. Its decision to resort to such an ambush strategy is a big step backwards for a local economy that continues its struggle to survive the consequences of the City’s recent bankruptcy. With that said, my client remains ready and willing to expeditiously resolve this matter with the City.”