Fuddruckers franchisee sues Dezer firm to prevent redevelopment of Orlando mall

Sunny Isles-based Dezer Development paid $23.7M about a year ago to acquire the mall after the previous owner evicted most of the tenants

Artegon Marketplace in Orlando (Credit: Wikipedia)
Artegon Marketplace in Orlando (Credit: Wikipedia)

The owner of a Fuddruckers restaurant at an Orlando shopping mall sued to prevent a company run by Michael Dezer from redeveloping the mall.

Dezer is the founder of Sunny Isles-based Dezer Development, which paid $23.7 million about a year ago for Artegon Marketplace, a shopping mall on Orlando’s International Drive, which winds through the city’s theme park district.

The previous owner of Artegon Marketplace, New York-based Lighthouse Group, evicted most tenants at the mall in early 2017.

Artegon Marketplace is now vacant except for spaces occupied by Fuddruckers, a movie theater and a Bass Pro Shop, all of which have their own entrances and remain open.

Soon after his company bought the mall, Dezer started to move his personal car collection into the mall and to plan such new attractions as a go-cart track and a vintage pinball museum.

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Blue Hills International, the Fuddruckers franchisee, and at least eight former tenants of the mall are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Lighthouse Group and a limited liability company Dezer controls, Dezer Orlando Center LLC.

According to the suit, the Fuddruckers restaurant would suffer a loss of business from any redevelopment of Artegon Marketplace that is “inconsistent with a retail mall.” Attorneys for Dezer have not formally responded to the claims in the suit.

The city government started imposing fines on Dezer for failing to obtain necessary permits and zoning to operate an auto museum inside Artegon Marketplace.

While some of those complaints were resolved in December, the city still seeks the details of Dezer’s plan for the mall property, which spans about 100 acres. [Orlando Weekly]Mike Seemuth