New rules for Osceola Co. motels, hotels converting into affordable housing

As motels and hotels convert to affordable housing, Osceola County commissioners approved a new ordinance to help protect residents, as well as the tourist district.

What used to be an old motel room is now a stunning but small studio apartment at Maingate Village for $975 a month.

"Maingate used to be the Red Lion Motel." 

Customer Service liaison Paul Carter says the Red Lion Motel was built in 1974, but after a multi-million dollar renovation, it’s now home to more than 300 full-time tenants. 

"For people on a fixed income, I think it’s a great idea."

"Motion passes 4-1." 

Osceola County commissioners approved an ordinance that would allow motels and hotels to be converted into affordable multi-family residential use along certain areas of U.S. 192. 

Osceola Commissioner Viviana Janer says, "We have been trying to make every effort possible to see how we can do affordable housing." 

Motels and hotels must be upgraded, so rooms have a full kitchen with individual electric and water meters. 

A minimum of 20% of the property must be designated as open green space and building facades and landscaping must also be in compliance.

Paul says, "Especially for people in the hotel industry and work for Disney, there’s a great need for that kind of concept."

"I am a musician," Fito Espinola said. 

Espinola says he’d normally look to rent a room in a house, but prefers living here because of all the amenities like a pool and workout room. 

He rented a one-bedroom with his girlfriend. 

"This place is really awesome to live here."

Commissioners say the new rules will help keep residents safe and maintain the tourist district as well.

Paul says, "There’s a great need for this kind of thing." 

Commissioners also hope to approve grants to help residents with rent and utilities to help offset the cost of renovations.