By Rena Langley, Senior Vice President, Walt Disney World Communications and Public Affairs, via the Disney Parks Blog
Earlier this year, we first told you about our plans to contribute nearly 80 acres of land for a new affordable housing development. It’s a project that has been near and dear to our hearts, as we know how important it is to find solutions to this important challenge facing communities all around the country, including here in Central Florida. Today, we’re sharing more details and giving you a sneak peek at what we’ve been working on!
First, let me tell you a little bit about where the development will be located. The land we’ve contributed for this initiative is in a great spot west of State Road 429, just a few miles away from the Magic Kingdom, near schools and shopping, including Flamingo Crossings Town Center. The development is expected to include more than 1,300 units.
We’re also excited to reveal who we’ve chosen to build, own and operate the property: The Michaels Organization, a prominent and visionary developer known for creating high-quality homes in communities in many states, including Florida.
The development is expected to be privately financed and limited to applicants within a certain income range.
“For more than 50 years, Walt Disney World has cared for and invested in our community, and we’re committed to being a part of this solution which will bring more attainable housing to Central Florida,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “We will continue to find ways to use our resources to make a difference in the community we call home, and we’re excited to take this step with a nationally recognized developer.”
After a thorough search, we chose The Michaels Organization for its long-standing track record in building and managing attainable housing communities. Negotiations between Walt Disney World and The Michaels Organization on a definitive agreement for the initiative are underway. The development will be open for qualifying applicants, including Disney cast members.
“We are excited to work with an iconic brand like Disney to deliver attainable housing for the Central Florida community,” said Michaels CEO John J. O’Donnell. “Our goal is to create a repeatable model that we hope will inspire other companies and municipalities to create high quality, attainable housing in their own communities.”
This initiative will help offer a viable solution to one of the nation’s greatest challenges and will support and build upon Orange County’s Housing for All action plan to address housing affordability for local residents, an action plan brought about by the passion and leadership of Mayor Jerry Demings.
Attainable housing is one of many ways Disney engages with local leaders to help the community find lasting solutions to this issue, from donations, to supplies to our Disney VoluntEARS program and more. You may remember that, earlier this year, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort donated $300K to local food banks to support people in the community facing food insecurity. That donation was part of the $5.5M Walt Disney World has contributed to important community causes during the ongoing 50th Anniversary celebration, including organizations on the frontline of addressing the need for affordable housing.
Stay tuned for more details on our affordable housing initiative, including details on our construction timeline, as this work continues!
Gray is a lifelong Disney fan! From Disney+ to the parks, he loves it all. His favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast, and his favorite attraction is The Haunted Mansion.