With new owners, residents of Florida Project motels must leave


KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Residents of a motel along a tourist strip not far from Walt Disney World that served as the setting for the 2017 film ‘The Florida Project’ have been told they must vacate at short notice notice as the complex has been sold to another owner.

Residents of the Magic Castle Inn & Suites were told last Monday that the hotel had been purchased and the new owners were evicting everyone, local media reported. Because the Magic Castle was a motel, the new owners do not have to follow the same eviction procedures that a landlord would have to remove tenants from a rental apartment.

“Now I have to find a home and a job,” said Heather Squires, who paid for her room by working at the motel, at the Orlando Sentinel. “That’s a lot to dump on someone in less than 24 hours.”

The lavender-painted hotel was the setting for the film which, through the eyes of a young girl, told a story of poverty and resilience in the weekly-paying motel that was the home of last resort for people who could not. I can’t afford to live anywhere else.

About 15 people lived at the hotel before the closure, said David Sarfati, who owned the hotel with his wife before it was sold.

Residents said they received no warning about the motel’s impending closure, even though the owners had supported them in the past.

“No warnings at all, no severance pay,” said Thomas Delgado, who also lived and worked at the motel. “Just, ‘Here’s your last paycheck and your vacation pay. Goodbye.'”

Sarfati said he too was surprised at how quickly the new owners were moving. He said he expected months to prepare for the transition and didn’t realize the new owners wanted residents out until the trash showed up at the motel on Monday.

“When the dumpsters arrived, we knew something was wrong,” Sarfati said.

A listing from Corcoran Premier Realty showed the property was under contract for $5.5 million, but a deed had yet to clear Osceola County property records.

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