Disney plans major 1,300-unit affordable housing project

'We are invested in working together with our community to solve complex issues.'

Walt Disney World is earmarking 80 acres of land near its theme parks to build more than 1,300 affordable housing units for cast members and the public, the company said Wednesday.

The company’s announcement of the new affordable housing development comes at a time when many Central Floridians are struggling with skyrocketing rent prices and a housing market that’s been steadily growing more expensive.

“We are invested in working together with our community to solve complex issues,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, in a statement. “The lack of affordable housing is affecting many people across our country, including right here in Central Florida. With this initiative, we’re lending a hand to make a real and meaningful impact in our community by tapping into the best of our company’s strengths. This is the right opportunity and the right time to take action.”

Disney is joining Universal, which is involved in a similar initiative. Universal Parks and Resorts is planning a 1,000-unit housing development on 20 acres in Orange County.

At Disney, the development will be located on Disney property near the Flamingo Crossings Town Center shopping and retail complex in southwest Orange County. Disney has a massive footprint in Central Florida and owns land equivalent to around 40 square miles.

“The development will be available for qualifying applicants in our region, including Disney cast members,” Disney said on its blog, although it didn’t provide details about how to qualify.

A third-party affordable housing developer will build the units. Disney did not provide an estimated opening date or give the cost of the project. Disney also did not say how much rent will be.

Disney said in a news release more details will be announced later “as the company continues due diligence work with a prominent affordable housing developer.”

Disney released an early rendering of the project which showed the apartments built in an area near water and surrounded by trees.

“This initiative has been in the works for a while as we’ve been focused on finding solutions to this challenge for quite some time,” Disney said on its parks blog. “Many of you know us for our incredible theme parks and resort hotels around the world, and we will engage the developer to bring that same innovation, expertise, and attention to detail to this initiative.”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings praised Disney’s efforts, saying, “Since Orange County launched the Housing for All Initiative, it’s been my goal to bring the private and public sectors together to find creative affordable housing solutions. With the announcement today, the hope is other large private employers in Orange County will step up and offer more affordable housing options to our community.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .

One comment

  • Larry Gillis, Libertarian (Cape Coral)

    April 7, 2022 at 9:52 am

    Nice idea, for sure, but the parties should wonder if this will eventually morph into “Plantation Housing.”, where the employer controls your housing as well as the conditions of your employment. That has unhealthy downstream effects.

    BTW, to the extent that the rents will be “below market”, will that constitute taxable income for the employee? (I’m not letting the cat out of the bag here; I am sure that the IRS will cheerfully figure this out on their own)

Comments are closed.


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