Timeshare giant Westgate Resorts recently settled an infamous property-rights dispute with a widow, but the company is still at odds with Orange County.

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
By Stephen Hudak

Published December 12, 2017


Westgate Resorts may have ended a drawn-out dispute with a widow over her vacation villa but it’s still waging a related fight with Orange County.

Headed by billionaire CEO David Siegel, Westgate and its parent company Central Florida Investments Inc. contend Orange County wrongfully cost the timeshare giant millions by holding up permits needed to build and occupy a pair of eight-story towers in Orlando’s tourist district.

“We have millions of dollars in damages that we incurred and they had no legal grounds to do what they did,” Westgate chief operating officer Mark Waltrip said.

Orange County officials declined comment on Waltrip’s remarks. They say the company owes about $200,000 in penalties for starting to build the second eight-story tower without a permit, which Westgate disputes.

A company lawyer, Michael Marder, argued in a letter mailed to the county last week that Central Florida Investments “is continuing to sustain substantial damages as a result of...erroneous, arbitrary and illegal actions.”

Covered by a green shroud, Julieta Meija de Corredor's damaged townhouse is dwarfed by Westgate Resorts' new timeshare tower on Turkey Lake Road.

Westgate tangled for more than a year with Julieta Meija de Corredor and her sons, William and Carlos, over ownership of a vacation villa she and her husband, now deceased, bought in 1985.

Westgate, which had tried to buy the condo and the plot of land on which it sat, mistakenly represented that it owned the property when the company first applied for permission to build timeshare towers on the site of complex where the Corredor unit was located. Westgate owned all other properties that made up the site formerly known as Sand Lake Village on Big Sand Lake near SeaWorld, Universal and the Orange County Convention Center.

The two sides struck a deal about two months ago during court-directed mediation and the widow gave up her claim to the property.

Terms were not disclosed by either Westgate lawyers or the widow’s lawyer Brent Siegel, no relation to the Westgate CEO, all of whom cited a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement.

Company officials say they have applied for but not received a permit to tear down the widow’s townhouse, which was deemed unsafe for habitation by county code enforcement after a Westgate contractor smacked it with a bulldozer.

But their dispute spawned other fights, including a legal squabble between Westgate and the county, which had refused to issue a demolition permit for the widow’s damaged condo or give the company permission to let timeshare tenants occupy the eight-story, $20-million tower.

Westgate sued Orange County in business court.

“Now that we are settled with the Corredors, you would think this whole matter would just go away,” Waltrip said.

In a letter to the company, deputy county attorney Joel Prinsell proposed Westgate dismiss its business-court lawsuit and, in exchange, the county attorney’s office would recommend dismiss its claims, too.

Waltrip said Westgate rejected the offer.

“We’re just not going to do it because we weren’t wrong then, we aren’t wrong now,” he said. “They’re basically, we believe, trying to cover their mistakes up by forcing us to drop our lawsuit.”

County records show the first tower, which looms over the widow’s former villa, was granted a certificate of occupancy Nov. 7.

Tenants now occupy its 80 units, Waltrip said.

“But we lost a whole season so damages there are immense,” he said.