Universal Resorts looking for developer to create affordable housing project

Universal plans to break ground in 2022

FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2019 file photo, guests cool off under a water mist by the globe at Universal Studios City Walk at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, Fla. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the company that owns Universal theme parks around the world says it's delaying construction on a fourth theme park in Florida and that the opening of a Nintendo-themed park in Japan will be pushed back by a few months. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said Thursday, April 30, 2020 that the company was delaying construction on its fourth park at Orlando Universal Resort. The Epic Universe theme park was announced last year to great fanfare. (AP Photo/John Raoux, file) (John Raoux, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Universal Parks & Resorts is looking for a developer who can bring their vision of affordable housing to fruition.

The affordable housing community will sit on a 20-acre site that the company has pledged for exclusive use in an effort to help one of the region’s most challenging problems: the lack of affordable housing.

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“The need for affordable housing in Central Florida is strong and our vision is clear,” John Sprouls, executive vice president for administration, Universal Parks & Resorts said. “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.”

Universal shared their vision for the site in a news release.

According to officials, the new community just off International Drive will feature approximately 1,000 high-quality apartments.

Officials said Universal will donate the land to a nonprofit entity and work with the developer to ensure the property is used for affordable housing in perpetuity. Universal said it will manage the developer selection process and will also work to create the development agreement with Orange County.

“I’m excited to see Universal commit to helping us find a solution to one of our community’s biggest challenges,” said Terry Prather, who is a member of the Universal committee and serves on the Orange County Housing for All Task Force. “We are working together to set a new standard for how our corporate community can help to solve issues as important as housing.”

The Housing for Tomorrow initiative issued a Request for Qualifications, inviting developers who specialize in affordable housing to express interest in developing this community.

The organization expects to select a final candidate by the first quarter of 2021.

Below is the criteria that will be used to guide to select a developer for the project:

  • 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

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

For more information on the new initiative, click or tap here.