Disney project will add more than 1,300 units

The developer will build, own and operate more than 1,300 units on Disney’s land in Southwest Orange.

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Walt Disney World has chosen a developer and a location for its new affordable housing development, which will be built on about 80 acres in Southwest Orange, only a few miles from the theme park resort.

The Michaels Organization, which has developed more than 55,000 units and manages more than 60,000 across 35 states, will build, own and operate the property.

The project will be 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.

“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.”

Negotiations between Walt Disney World and The Michaels Organization on a definitive agreement for the project are underway.

Not only will the development be open for qualifying applicants, including Disney cast members, but also the initiative will create new jobs in the Central Florida community through construction and ongoing operation of the property. 

The development — 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 Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

Walt Disney World said a timeline for construction and other details will be released at a later date. 


The Michaels Organization’s mission is to “bring comprehensive solutions to communities that jumpstart housing, education, civic engagement and neighborhood prosperity,” according to the developer’s website.

The company’s mission is that a Michaels neighborhood be a beautiful, bustling place to call home, as well as a launching pad for people to move to the next level of their lives.

From single communities to comprehensive neighborhood revitalizations, Michaels has spent the last four decades working with cities, rural areas, major public universities, the faith community and others to develop creative solutions to housing challenges. 

“We are excited to work with an iconic brand like Disney to deliver attainable housing for the Central Florida community,” Michaels CEO John J. O’Donnell said. “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.”

Currently, the organization is present in more than 425 communities and with 146,000 residents.

In Florida, the company has 14 communities and 10 affordable housing developments. These include the Abbey Lane Apartments in Winter Haven, Belmont Heights Estates in Tampa and Janie’s Garden in Sarasota. 

The Michaels executive team is led by members including founder and Chairman Michael J. Levitt,  O’Donnell, Chief Operating Officer Mark Morgan, Chief Financial Officer Joe Purcell and President Kimberlee Schriber.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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