ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — There's a new twist in the standoff between an octogenarian widow in Florida who refused to sell her townhome and the giant developer that constructed a timeshare resort around her vacant, two-story building anyway.
In order to get a county permit for tenants to move into the new timeshare units, the company needs her signature — and she's not giving it. That prompted the parent company of Westgate Resorts to sue Orange County, Florida, this month, demanding that the county issue the occupancy permit anyway.
The timeshare giant's lawsuit is the latest development in the ongoing fight between Julieta Corredor and Westgate Resorts. Corredor was the last owner in her condominium development who refused to sell to Westgate so it could build the new timeshare complex in the heart of Orlando's tourist district. The company tweaked its plans, but moved forward, building a seven-story, multimillion-dollar edifice within feet of the Corredor townhome.
The 82-year-old woman's townhome was damaged when a contractor for the timeshare company was clearing the site for the construction of Westgate's timeshare complex. No one now lives in the property, which was used as a vacation home by the South Florida-based Corredor family. The home, which Westgate said the family has not used in more than a decade, has now been deemed uninhabitable because of the damage.
Orange County officials have told Westgate their contractor needs a demolition permit for the unpermitted work done on Corredor's building before it will grant the occupancy permit for one building and a building permit for the second building in the timeshare complex. That requires the signature of Corredor, who has so far steadfastly refused all of the company's offers to buy out her unit.
"The fact that Westgate apparently undertook demolition without proper permitting from Orange County, substantially damaging Mrs. Corredor's condominium in the process and rendering it uninhabitable, is one of the big reasons that we're in this mess," said Corredor's attorney, Brent Siegel.
County spokeswoman Doreen Overstreet said the county wouldn't comment due to the pending litigation. Corredor and her sons weren't named as defendants in the lawsuit, although their fight with Westgate looms large over the complaint.
In emails filed with the court, a lawyer for Westgate complained that the county's decision not to issue the occupancy permit is costing Westgate "tens of thousands of dollars every day." The lawsuit said the company has passed all final inspections and that the county has "a clear legal ministerial duty" to issue the occupancy permit.
The county also told Westgate it needs to make repairs to the Corredor home in order to get the permit, and that also requires Corredor's signature. That's something she is willing to sign off on, provided she gets all the details on the proposed repairs, her attorney said.
Officials at the timeshare company said they've offered to rebuild the Corredors' unit at the same or a new location and provide $50,000 in furnishings. They've presented an offer of a $150,000 cash buy-out, and they've said they're willing to offer a comparable, newly-renovated unit in a different building. The Corredors have repeatedly said "no."
The Corredors have said that their case is a matter of principle on property rights and that they feel bullied by Westgate.
The Corredors have two lawsuits pending against Westgate. There have been no steps toward settlement talks since the beginning of the year, Siegel said.