Disney And The Michaels Organization Advance Affordable Housing Plans In Horizon West

Credit: The Walt Disney Company.

Efforts to tackle Central Florida’s pressing affordable housing crisis have taken a significant step forward as plans by Walt Disney World and The Michaels Organization to develop a sprawling affordable housing community in Horizon West have cleared a notable hurdle. On February 15, Orange County’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend the transmittal of a request for a future land use amendment for Disney’s 114-acre property, marking a pivotal advancement in the project’s journey towards realization. This collaborative effort between the entertainment behemoth and the Camden, New Jersey-based developer is poised to erect as many as 1,410 apartments, with over 1,000 designated as affordable housing units, directly addressing the region’s acute need for accessible living spaces.

The application sought to expand the Horizon West Village H special planning area boundary to envelop Disney’s tract and designate it for “village” future land use. This move comes as part of a broader initiative to integrate the property, situated just off State Road 429 near Avalon and Hartzog Roads, into the community’s fabric. Approximately 75 acres of the site are developable, with the remainder classified as wetlands, underscoring a commitment to sustainable development practices.

Credit: The Walt Disney Company.

This milestone achievement reflects the concerted efforts of Disney and The Michaels Organization to forge a community that not only caters to the urgent need for affordable housing but also resonates with the architectural and cultural ethos of the area. By offering a mix of one to four-bedroom apartments, including townhome-style units for larger families, and setting rent prices to accommodate individuals making 50% of the area median income, the project is meticulously designed to enhance the living standards of its residents. Additionally, the proposal includes a 75-year land lease to ensure the longevity of the community’s affordability.

Moreover, the project’s design emphasizes placemaking, landscaping, and amenities that foster a sense of identity and belonging, featuring six distinct neighborhoods within the development. Despite facing concerns from neighboring communities regarding traffic, infrastructure, and density, the initiative has garnered support for its thoughtful approach to community engagement and its potential to significantly alleviate the housing shortfall in Orlando—a city grappling with one of the nation’s most severe affordable housing shortages.

As the project moves to the next phase of review by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners and eventually state agency comments, the collaborative endeavor between Walt Disney World and The Michaels Organization stands as a beacon of hope for many Central Floridians. This ambitious project not only aims to offer a tangible solution to the housing crisis but also to enrich the Horizon West community with a development that is harmonious with its surroundings and supportive of the diverse needs of its future residents.

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