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Former cruise travel agency exec sells Winter Park mansion for $11M

Former cruise travel agency exec sells Winter Park mansion for $11M
A front view of the home recently sold on N. Interlachen Avenue in Winter Park by Judy Heller. It's 3.5 acres border Lake Osceola to the rear. (Fannie Hillman + Associates)

The widow of a former founder of North America's largest cruise agency sold their Winter Park lakefront estate on Jan. 30 for $11 million, a price that included about $300,000 in personal property from the mansion.

The home, located in the 600 block of N. Interlachen Avenue, faces Lake Osceola and the Winter Park Country Club golf course.

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The seller, Judy Heller, bought the 3.5-acre property with late husband Wayne Heller in August 2000 for $3.395 million. The property was occupied at the time by the historic Casa Feliz home, designed by James Gamble Rogers II.

Residents petitioned city officials to save the Casa Feliz from demolition by the Hellers, who eventually donated the house to the city after $1.7 million was raised to move and restore the house. It is now on Park Avenue, and part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Hellers then built a Dirk Arace-designed custom mansion over four years, finishing construction in 2013 on a four-bedroom, seven-bath home with 19,795 square feet of conditioned area.

The mansion features a theater room, two gyms, formal dining room, multiple offices, a library with onyx bar, six fireplaces. Outdoors has a cabana, pool and hot tub, boathouse, white sand beach and a four-car garage.

The Hellers are widely considered as cruise sales innovators, and were inducted in 2015 to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Hall of Fame.

Wayne Heller, who died in June 2015 at age 58, started his career with Norwegian Cruise Line before opening travel agency Cruises Only in Orlando in 1984. He and Judy met there, and by 1997 Cruises Only was the largest cruise agency in North America, per the CLIA.

The Hellers co-founded Travel Services International in 1997 with partners, the company went public, and by 2000 it was the largest seller of cruises in the world, according to CLIA.

U.K.-based Airtours acquired Travel Services International in 2000. The Hellers went on to create Origin Cruise Group after that, and in 2011 they invested in and restored the 130-year-old Riverview Hotel & Spa in New Smyrna Beach.

The buyer was Sungate Trust I, formed in December 2000 and managed by trustee J. Brock McClane, attorney with Fisher Rushmer in Orlando.

An individual behind that trust could not be identified, but Scott Hillman, broker with Fannie Hillman + Associates, Inc., which represented the seller, said it was a "local businessman with deep ties to the community."

"The buyer wants to entertain quite a bit, so the size of the home was a key attribute, allowing for the entertaining of large groups," he said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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