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Westgate plans pedestrian bridge at Lakes Resort and PD expansion of 107 units

Westgate plans pedestrian bridge at Lakes Resort and PD expansion of 107 units
In this overview map for Westgate Lakes Resort, new buildings 60 and 70 can be seen in the lower left, with the white label "Future Development" above them. The property's main sales building and new parking garage can be seen in the lower right. (Westgate Resorts)

Westgate Resorts will add an elevated pedestrian bridge to connect the main sales and check-in building of its Westgate Lakes Resort with an adjacent parking garage, a potential $1.5 million investment for 2016 in addition to the $53 million in projected investment for two new buildings next year, the company's COO told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday.

As GrowthSpotter reported on Oct. 8, Westgate plans to demolish an existing structure of one-story town homes at the resort first built in the 1980s, and build two new timeshare unit buildings in their place that total 160 units. That will take the property's unit total to 1,207 by late 2016, when complete.

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The company has since filed a Development Plan to expand its existing three-story timeshare sales center, where guest check-in occurs and a spa is based, and build a pedestrian bridge. The bridge would go from the second and third stories and stretch a few hundred feet to the northeast, connecting with the same levels of the resort's new parking garage.

That plan is still under review by Orange County planning staff.

"The bridge will give our guests direct access to the spa area and more convenience from the garage, it's likely another $1.5 million in investment," Mark Waltrip, Westgate COO, said Wednesday. "We hope to begin work on that in First Quarter 2016."

Westgate also received a recommendation for approval from Orange County's Development Review Committee on Wednesday to increase the maximum number of timeshare units in its Planned Development (PD) zoning to 1,368, from a current max of 1,261.

With 1,207 units projected for the property after its current expansion round in 2016, this would give Westgate Lakes another 161 units to expand by in the coming years.

The PD zoning change request included adding another 10,000 square feet of commercial use. Waltrip said Wednesday that space will be dedicated to future retail and dining expansion in the central core of the property.

Following a DRC recommendation, the PD's increase of timeshare units and commercial space will go to county commissioners for approval, likely in late January or February.

John Smogor, planning administrator for Orange County, encouraged Westgate to consider pausing the PD expansion request and hold a community meeting first, due to past conflict that residents on or across Big Sand Lake have had with expansion of Westgate Lakes.

VHB, Inc., planner and civil engineer for the projects, declined to pause for a community meeting. The issue could be raised again by county commissioners, Smogor noted.

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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