Disney, universal plan to develop affordable housing units in Florida

  • Walt Disney this week announced plans to build 1,300 homes on 80 acres of its Florida land.
  • Disney joins a growing list of theme parks developing affordable housing.
  • Universal Orlando said in March it would allocate 20 acres to create 1,000 units of affordable housing.

Disney plans to develop 1,300 affordable housing units on approximately 80 acres of its land in Orange County, Fla. near its theme parks as US home prices continue to outpace wage growth.

The unnamed proposed project, pending approval, will be built by an affordable housing developer on Disney lots near its theme parks in central Florida, the firm said Wednesday.

The company didn’t specify any criteria or how much the units would cost, but said the homes would be available to “qualified applicants” from the public, including theme park employees.

The units, which will be described as “affordable and accessible,” will be located near schools and Disney’s Flamingo Crossings restaurant and retail complex from its Walt Disney World Resort.

“We invest in working with our community to solve complex problems,” Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle said in a statement.

“The lack of affordable housing affects many people in our country, including here in Central Florida,” he added.

Disney isn’t the only Florida resort operator looking for more affordable housing for its employees and residents. Universal announced March 28 that it would partner with developer Wendover Housing Partners to build 1,000 affordable units on its property to “fix Orlando’s lack of affordable housing.” Universal’s plans are also subject to Orange County approval.

Florida is one of the least affordable places to live in the US, The Washington Post reported in January. The publication’s analysis of Zillow data found that house prices had risen faster than any other state over the last six months of 2021, while wages had not risen at the same rate.

According to a study by Florida Atlantic University’s business school, Orlando rental prices increased by 21% between 2020 and 2021.

Disney said it previously funded affordable housing projects in the area. One project, Finamore Place in Anaheim, is slated to offer 100 residential units for completion this summer. The theme park operator also helped fund a housing project to help veterans and the homeless with mental health issues.

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