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
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
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.