Lift Orlando demolishes old apartments to clear 'blight,' make way for new development

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The group of business people that gathered to form Lift Orlando have begun work on demolishing -- and will eventually reconstruct -- the Washington Shores Apartments at the corner of Orange Center and Rio Grande in Orlando.  Mayor Buddy Dyer was frank when he discussed the condition of the two block complex.

"They were recently boarded up, they were foreclosed on by Fannie Mae, and they were simply blighted."

Once the demolition is complete, Lift CEO Eddy Moratin says hundreds of new apartments will go there.

"Phase I will be mixed income. In fact our whole goal is to only focus on mixed income housing. It's easier and much more profitable to do straight up low income or luxury housing."

While the group's mission is not to make a profit, the breakdown of the complex will be 70 percent at market rate, 20 percent for low income, and then the final 10 percent will be for extra low income subsidized housing, and a  place for the homeless. We asked CEO Eddy Moratin why someone would choose to live in this new complex at market rate, when there will be 30 percent that will not.

"You can mix incomes all day long. Communities of mixed income have existed for a long time. What you can't mix are values. The values are wanting to work hard, be in a safe, clean community, wanting your children to go to a good school. Those transcend all income levels."

Rock Lake Elementary will be an essential part of whether or not the complex will succeed. It will have to be improved. We asked Mayor Buddy Dyer what his ultimate vision for this project will be?

"To have great housing in a comprehensive, cohesive neighborhood that builds off Rock Lake Elementary. Probably a YMCA or Boys and Girls Club here."

Lift Orlando hopes to rebuild this complex this year.