Universal Addresses Affordable Housing in Central Florida
Universal Parks & Resorts has promised to take the lead in alleviating one of Central Florida’s most significant challenges: affordable housing. Universal’s Housing for Tomorrow project is an ambitious, first-of-its-kind endeavor that could change the face of the region and countless lives for generations to come.
The project was inspired by the findings of the Orange County Housing for All Task Force, which included Universal Orlando’s Rhonda Rhodes, vice president of Human Resources. The Task Force identified the International Drive corridor as an area of high priority, prompting Universal Parks & Resorts to donate 20 acres of land to be used for the development of an affordable housing community.
This community will feature approximately 1,000 high-quality apartments and 16,000 square-feet of retail space and align with Housing for Tomorrow’s vision of making residents the priority. It will feature scenic, lake-front views, open green spaces and many sought after amenities. Its location puts it in the heart of the tourist corridor, providing easy access to nearby jobs, shopping, retail and entertainment outlets as well as to I-4, SR 528 and Orlando International Airport.
This will be a neighborhood where residents are proud to call home, that inspires and enables personal growth. It will offer economically varied housing options and will make diversity and inclusion a priority. As part of Universal’s commitment to give back to the community, the hope is that this will have a lasting impact on its residents and Central Florida as a whole. Part of Universal’s vision is that this will be the first of many projects of its kind and set the standard and example for corporate responsibility and for what affordable housing projects can aspire to be.
Universal has transferred ownership of the land to a not-for-profit entity called Housing for Tomorrow and will work with a developer, Wendover Housing Partners to ensure the property is used for affordable housing in perpetuity. In this new kind of public-private partnership, Housing for Tomorrow will own the land and enter into a $10 per year, 55-year lease with the developer.
Wendover was selected after an extensive months-long national search. The company, based in Central Florida, has more than 30 years of experience building, financing and managing affordable housing communities. They have created a wide-range of housing opportunities through state-of-the-art affordable and mixed-income developments in economically and socially diverse neighborhoods.