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Universal Parks & Resorts donating 20-acre site for affordable housing in Orange County, Florida

by Attractions Magazine Staff

Universal Parks & Resorts has begun a nationwide search for a developer to design, build and manage an affordable housing community on a 20-acre site the company has donated in Orange County, Fla.

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The new community will feature 1,000 high-quality apartments and will be located just off International Drive, in an area targeted by the Housing for All Task Force.

“I am thrilled that Universal has stepped up to the plate to help solve the affordable housing challenge, an issue that affects us all. This venture is a great example of a public-private partnership,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “I am also very proud of the results produced by the Housing for All Task Force. Their plan of action provides a clear blueprint for moving forward.”

Universal will donate the parcel of land to a not-for-profit entity set up to work with the developer chosen to ensure that the property is used for affordable housing. Universal will oversee the developer selection process and will work to create the development agreement with Orange County. The goal is to break ground on the housing development in 2022.

“The need for affordable housing in Central Florida is strong and our vision is clear,” said John Sprouls, executive vide president for administration, Universal Parks & Resorts. “We will make land available for affordable housing, we will bring the right partners to the project and we will set a high standard for the new community we create.”

The criteria that will be used to guide the selection of a developer includes a demonstration of:

  • Community Resident Focus: a commitment to resident satisfaction
  • Community Design and Development: a commitment to high-quality, livable, design
  • Community Operation and Maintenance: a commitment to an affordable community that offers a high quality of life
  • Development Organization: a commitment to a high-quality team to develop and manage the new community, demonstrated expertise in affordable housing and a track record of success
  • Development Financing: commitment to a sound financial plan to cover both the development and long-term sustainability of the community

Dozens of affordable housing developers are expected to respond by the deadline of Nov. 2, 2020.

“Progress requires collective commitment and government cannot do this alone,” said Victoria Siplin, Orange County District 6 commissioner, whose district will include the new community. “Universal has helped us to create a model public-private partnership. And the benefits to our community will be real.”

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