Disney World announces more details for its Affordable and Attainable Housing Initiative

Nov 16, 2022 in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Wednesday November 16, 2022 9:09am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Originally announced earlier this year, Disney has today revealed more details about its new Walt Disney World Affordable and Attainable Housing Initiative.

Walt Disney World has selected The Michaels Organization, a prominent developer known for creating homes in communities across the country and here in Central Florida, to build, own and operate a new attainable housing development, offering affordable options for qualifying applicants within certain income levels. Walt Disney World will contribute approximately 80 acres of land in southwest Orange County, Florida, for the development, located west of State Road 429 and just a couple of miles from Flamingo Crossings Town Center. The development is expected to include more than 1,300 units with a construction timetable to still be announced.

Walt Disney World chose The Michaels Organization for its long-standing track record in building and managing attainable housing communities. Negotiations between Walt Disney World and The Michael’s Organization on a definitive agreement for the project are underway. With over 425 communities in more than 35 states, The Michaels Organization has provided comprehensive solutions to affordable housing for many years and is the largest privately held owner of affordable housing in the country. The development will be open for qualifying applicants, including Disney cast members.

“For more than 50 years, Walt Disney World has cared for and invested in our community, and we’re committed to being a part of this solution which will bring more attainable housing to Central Florida,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “We will continue to find ways to use our resources to make a difference in the community we call home, and we’re excited to take this step with a nationally recognized developer.”

The initiative will create new jobs in the Central Florida community through The Michael’s Organization’s construction and ongoing operation of the property. Disney will collaborate with The Michaels Organization throughout its design and construction.

“We are excited to work with an iconic brand like Disney to deliver attainable housing for the Central Florida community,” said Michaels CEO John J. O’Donnell. “Our goal is to create a repeatable model that we hope will inspire other companies and municipalities to create high quality, attainable housing in their own communities.”

The development – which is planned to be privately financed – will be limited to applicants within a certain income range. This initiative will support and build upon Orange County’s Housing for All action plan to address housing affordability for local residents, an action plan brought about by the passion and leadership of Mayor Jerry Demings.

The initiative is one of many ways Disney engages with local leaders to help the community find lasting solutions to this issue, from making monetary donations, to contributing supplies to local organizations in need, to providing assistance through the Disney VoluntEARS program and more. Earlier this year, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort donated $300K to local food banks to support people in the community facing food insecurity. That donation was just part of the $5.5M Walt Disney World has contributed to important community causes during the ongoing 50th Anniversary celebration, including organizations on the frontline of addressing the need for affordable housing, like Hope Partnership.

Discuss on the Forums

Get Walt Disney World News Delivered to Your Inbox

View all comments →

SirwalterraleighJun 14, 2023

Ahhhh…so then starting wages can go back to $10 an hour?…brilliant, Bob! 🤔

DCBakerJun 14, 2023

New article from the Orlando Business Journal on a recent rezoning request for the land related to the Affordable Housing development. "A rezoning request related to Walt Disney World's plans to build an affordable housing community has surfaced in Orange County, suggesting the project — scheduled to open in 2026 — is ramping up. Walt Disney Imagineering, the think tank/creative of The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), is the applicant for a June 13 request to rezone 114 acres to planned development to make way for the apartment community, which is expected to have about 1,400 housing units. The move follows Disney's announcement in November that Camden, NJ-based The Michaels Organization will be the developer for the project on its behalf, as well as its April announcement of a construction timeline and increase from 1,300 units to 1,400. A project cost has not been announced, but based on construction industry standards, the 1,400-unit community should represented an investment of at least $350 million. A Disney spokesperson did not disclose any additional details to Orlando Business Journal. Laura Zaner, vice president of corporate communications and marketing for Michaels, said the developer did not have an update at this time. However, an application for the rezoning request reveals some details, including that Disney and Michaels are seeking a maximum building height of five stories, or 65-feet, for the project to rise on land north of Flamingo Crossings, near the intersection of Avalon Road and Hartzog Road. It also offers some details on who would qualify for the units, noting "100% of the constructed units will target incomes in the 50-100% AMI (area median income) range," which varies by the number of people in a household. Finally, the application notes a development program with a maximum of 1,450 apartments, which would give Disney the flexibility to add 50 units to its current projected volume of homes." Full article below. https://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2023/06/14/walt-disney-world-affordable-housing-michaels-cons.html

WDWFanRayApr 20, 2023

Disney and affordable go together like DMV and efficient.

SirwalterraleighApr 20, 2023

Well…I guess…but that’s a bit secondary now

SirwalterraleighApr 20, 2023

I would give nothing…take the air out of the room

Disstevefan1Apr 19, 2023

I want to HOPE WDW will give their cast members first crack at the apartments before listing them to the public.

Cmdr_CrimsonApr 19, 2023

Got to wonder how much a place will be and how many of them will all be Vloggers over taking it with their mouth agape photos for the counts on their YouTube channel..

wdwmagicApr 19, 2023

Well seeing as DeSantis and co seem to be attempting to totally ignore the fact Disney is doing this, I think the timing is excellent.

Disstevefan1Apr 19, 2023

Well maybe since they announced now, they may actually DO IT! It's their cast members that need the housing!

SirwalterraleighApr 19, 2023

They should pause announcements like this until the hoopla dies down.

DCBakerApr 19, 2023

Disney says the Affordable Housing program they announced last year is anticipated to open in 2026 and groundbreaking is targeted to begin next year. "This time last year, we first told you about our plans at Walt Disney World to contribute nearly 80 acres of our land to create a new affordable and attainable housing development for our community. This type of land contribution is unique and is one of many ways we are making a lasting impact in Central Florida. We’ve been making more and more progress on this initiative every day, and now, we’re thrilled to share that groundbreaking on this development is targeted for next year, with the first units anticipated to be completed in 2026. We are also expanding our vision to now include approximately 1,400 total units – over 100 higher than we had initially announced. We hope to make a positive impact wherever we can in our community, so to be able to offer more units means even more Florida families will get access to attainable housing, in addition to creating new Florida jobs as part of the construction and operation. As we previously announced, The Michaels Organization, a nationally recognized developer, will build and operate the property, which would be just a few miles away from the Magic Kingdom, near schools and shopping, including Flamingo Crossings Town Center, which continues to open more great retail and dining spots. The development, which is planned to be privately financed, will be limited to applicants within a certain income range. Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle and our team met earlier this week with leaders from The Michaels Organization here in Florida, and we discussed how we hope this development inspires others in the community and across the country to support this important issue in innovative ways. While we continue to work closely with The Michaels Organization to make progress on this initiative, Disney has been on the front line, supporting important causes in our community. We recently joined Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, an organization that our cast members passionately support year-round through our Disney VoluntEARS program, for the grand opening of its newly renovated youth center, which was built with the help of a $100,000 Disney grant. And late last year, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort announced significant donations to local community food banks to support families in need, totaling more than $300,000. Please know we will continue to share more details, including more information on how to apply for those who qualify, when we can. In the meantime, we will keep working diligently behind the scenes to bring this important initiative to life! Visit DisneyFlorida.com to learn more." https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2023/04/walt-disney-world-affordable-and-attainable-housing-anticipated-to-open-in-2026/

John park hopperNov 17, 2022

In theory----- but it never seems to work that way

CompedNov 17, 2022

That which isn't currently scheduled to remain in Celebration anyway... Still many jobs advertised as being in Celebration.

DisneyCaneNov 17, 2022

I understand why they did it but the biggest disservice ever done to low income people was developing low income housing projects that were isolated from housing of other income levels. All the people living there ever see is other poverty stricken people. If Disney wanted to try and do things a better way, they should have partnered with developers to mix some percentage of low income housing into middle income developments. Inner cities would look a lot different today (in a much better way) if that's how low income housing had been developed in the prior to the 1970s.