When Walt Disney unveiled his imaginative and prescient in 1966 for a big challenge in central Florida, he referred to as it an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). He mentioned it might be a metropolis of 20,000 residents, with an emphasis on industrial and civic experimentation—a utopian metropolis, with just a little Disney theme park magic on the facet.
Disney died later that 12 months earlier than his imaginative and prescient may take form. And when Disney World opened in 1971, his utopian experiment was sidelined into EPCOT Center, only a small aspect of an in any other case wholly industrial theme park.
Now, greater than 50 years later, a extra city a part of Disney’s utopian idealism is taking form. The firm is asserting a brand new challenge to reinforce its huge theme park and resort improvement with 1,300 models of inexpensive housing, set on 80 acres of land proper subsequent to Disney World.
The challenge remains to be in early phases and topic to governmental approvals, however the Walt Disney Company is hoping to work with an unnamed third-party inexpensive housing developer to construct a challenge it says in press supplies will make “an important difference locally to address one of the nation’s greatest challenges.” The firm declined to make a consultant out there for remark.
The firm’s announcement notes that the housing will likely be out there to income-qualifying candidates from most of the people, in addition to its personal staff. It’s an acknowledgement that the area’s inexpensive housing scarcity can also be an issue for Disney’s employees.
In the Orlando space, rents are rising, and the variety of residents paying greater than a 3rd of their revenue on lease is among the many highest within the nation. In 2019, the National Low Income Housing Coalition named Orlando the worst metropolis within the nation for inexpensive housing, with simply 13 affordably priced properties for each 100 low-income renters. The report estimates that the Orlando metropolitan space has a scarcity of greater than 60,000 models of housing for these with extraordinarily low incomes. Disney’s inexpensive housing plans are clearly not taking place in a vacuum.
Many Disney World staff make $15 an hour, or the equal of simply $31,200 a 12 months. Building extra inexpensive housing is a technique to assist them. Another approach could be to boost wages.
This isn’t Disney’s first foray into residential actual property improvement. The master-planned group of Celebration, Florida, opened in 1996, was certainly one of its early experiments in neighborhood constructing. Earlier this 12 months, the corporate introduced one other large-scale for-sale housing challenge in California that goals to create what it calls “storyliving” by means of themed neighborhoods the place residents “can be part of Disney all of the time.” That challenge can even be a three way partnership with an out of doors developer.
Disney isn’t the one main leisure firm venturing into the affordable-housing market. Universal Parks and Resorts not too long ago introduced a partnership with affordable-housing developer Wendover Housing Partners to construct 1,000 models of inexpensive and mixed-income housing on 20 acres of land close to its personal Florida theme park. Calling the challenge Housing For Tomorrow, Universal has additionally acknowledged that the inexpensive housing scarcity instantly impacts its personal employees. “We have long believed in giving back to the community that has supported us and where our team members live and raise their families,” the corporate mentioned on the challenge’s web site.
For big landowners like Disney and Universal, residential improvement is an apparent enterprise transfer. In distinction to theme park growth, constructing new properties can occur comparatively shortly. Throw in a extreme scarcity of inexpensive housing within the area, and the enterprise case is even stronger. And by partnering with affordable-housing builders, as every firm plans to, their developments will doubtless be capable to faucet into government-subsidized sources of financing—bringing prices down and the small, however nonetheless worthwhile, returns of inexpensive housing improvement up.