Universal, Wendover Housing Partners team up to develop affordable housing community

Universal Parks & Resorts has partnered with a developer to design, build and manage an affordable housing community near International Drive.

Universal has pledged a 20-acre site for the initiative on which Altamonte Springs-based Wendover Housing Partners will bring Universal’s vision to life.

This comes after Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force determined that more affordable housing was needed for employees in the tourist district and that it should be a priority for the county over the next decade.

A 10-year action plan was adopted in late 2019 which will focus on removing regulatory barriers, creating new financial resources, targeting areas of access and opportunity, and engaging the community and industry.

The community will include 1,000 "high-quality" apartments as well as 16,000 square feet of retail space, with construction expected to begin in late 2022, according to a news release by Universal.  Artist renderings of the concept were released on Tuesday:

"Affordable Housing is one of our community’s biggest challenges and we want to be part of the solution," said John Sprouls, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Universal Parks & Resorts. "We have brought people with the right expertise together with land to create a new affordable housing community – and a new approach to this issue. Wendover’s willingness to enter a long-term commitment, its experience with affordable housing in our state, and its solid financing model will help us make sure we succeed."

Ownership of the site has been transferred from Universal to a not-for-profit established by the company called Housing for Tomorrow whose role is to oversee the initiative and make sure it remains true to the original vision. Housing for Tomorrow will retain ownership of the site and serve as Master Developer – entering a $10-a-year/55-year lease for the property with Wendover.

"This is an unprecedented partnership between a major company in the community and a private developer to work together to design a community that is close to where people work, filled with amenities that they want and with rents they can afford," said Jonathan L. Wolf, founder and CEO of Wendover Housing Partners. "We see this as a model for the rest of the country to show how this type of partnership can be used to address the critical need for innovative affordable housing solutions."

Universal Creative – the group within Universal Parks & Resorts that designs and builds theme parks, theme park attractions, and hotels will work with Wendover on the overall plan for the new community.

The site is for the planned development is very close to what will become Universal's Epic Universe park, located just east of the Orange County Convention Center and the International Drive area. Access from the south is provided by Destination Parkway and a future Kirkman Road Extension will provide access from the west.

Visit housingfortomorrow.com for more information.

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