Thursday, January 31, 2019

Trump’s friend Michael Dezer files plans for new apartments at former Artegon mall in Orlando

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2019 at 7:07 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
Orlando city officials are finally getting a few details on a plan to redevelop the former Artegon Mall on International Drive.

Miami developer Michael Dezer, a friend of the Trump family who developed several Trump Tower condo properties in South Florida, is planning to start constructing new apartment buildings on existing parking lots around the closed mall, beginning with a five-story building that would have 365 units.

The city is set to review a master plan filed by Dezer’s companies. First is a Technical Review at 2 p.m. on Feb. 5, followed by the Master Planning Board at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 19, and finally by City Council on March 25. Those meetings are all held in the council chambers at City Hall.

The Artegon closure and redevelopment has been controversial because former tenants sued the previous owner, New York-based Lightstone Group, for abruptly closing the place and kicking them out in January 2017. A year later, Dezer bought the 139-acre property and starting moving a massive car collection there to open it as a museum or showcase for the vehicles.

City officials soon criticized Dezer for not obtaining proper permits and not filing a new master plan laying out his plans for the property. He filed that recently and is now facing more scrutiny.

Dezer was also included in a lawsuit filed by one of the few remaining tenants at the mall, a Fuddruckers owned by Miami developers Blue Hills International. They allege that plans to change the mall’s concept could damage its business. Nick Videla, a principal with Blue Hills, sai he wants to stay around until Artegon is reborn.

“We want to stay there, because it can be a good location for us,” Videla said. “It was very successful, but we lose money every month there now; that location ended last year in the hole by about $150,000.”

He said he’s been trying to negotiate with Dezer, who eats lunch there regularly but has expressed reservations about allowing Fuddruckers to stay. The new master plan doesn’t provide any more detail on what Dezer plans inside the mall, where he’s been rapidly building out a go-cart track, vintage pinball arcade and other attractions.

The new apartments would rise to the south of the mall itself. Dezer says the property has more than enough parking for everything he’s planning, including about 600 spaces for the new apartment building.

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