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A national advocate for consumer debt relief, who also holds stakes in businesses tied to payday lending, bought land last month on W. U.S. 192 that borders the MargaritaVillage Resort property, just a few weeks before the $500 million project was announced.

Howard S. Dvorkin, founder and former president of non-profit personal debt advisory firm Consolidated Credit Counseling Services Inc., acquired a 5.15-acre parcel fronting W. U.S. 192 in Kissimmee’s tourism corridor on July 27 for $1.5 million. The land was bought by NRNS Acquisition Orlando LLC, an affiliate created in late June by Dvorkin, and based in Parkland, Fla.

Dvorkin is a CPA, author and national columnist who founded Consolidated Credit in Fort Lauderdale in 1993, has advocated a cash-only lifestyle for Americans in debt, and has appeared as a personal finance expert for Fox Business News, NBC News, CNN and other news outlets.

A Jan. 12 article by The Wall Street Journal delved into Dvorkin’s ties to companies that provide services to payday lenders, which make short-term loans and carry high annual interest rates. He has held ownership stakes in companies that offer high-interest payday loans, or provided services to payday lenders, despite speaking critically about payday loans in the past to national media, according to the report.

Dvorkin did not respond to multiple requests for comment by email in recent weeks from GrowthSpotter. Jim Bagley, general manager of Encore Capital Management, the MargaritaVillage project’s developer, also did not respond to calls for comment Monday.

The 5.15-acre parcel had a site development plan approved in May 2014 and an engineering subdivision plan approved in February of this year for service road and utility extensions, with land prepared for paving as of July 15, per Osceola County permit records.

The MargaritaVillage Resort development, previously described as 304 acres when the developer announced on Aug. 12, is now projected at 320 acres after including a 15-acre water park in its county Development Review Committee plans submitted on Aug. 19.

The water park is planned for a previously unincluded parcel in MargaritaVillage with frontage on W. U.S. 192. The Dvorkin-owned land will border that water park site to the east, according to current site plans for the resort submitted at Osceola’s DRC.

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