County commissioners move Disney affordable housing project forward

After several hours of discussion, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to move the controversial project forward with a 4-2 vote.

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World
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Walt Disney World's proposed affordable housing project in Horizon West is moving forward following approval by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners Tuesday, March 26.

The 4-2 vote came subsequent to several hours of heavy debate.

Mayor Jerry L. Demings was the one to make the motion to transmit the housing plan to the state for review, a mandatory step in the approval process.

Commissioner Nicole Wilson, who leads District 1 where the project is being proposed, and Commissioner Emily Bonilla voted "no" on Disney Imagineering’s request. Both commissioners asked for a delay on the vote so more information can be gathered. 

"I don't think we're at the point that this should be transmitted," Wilson said prior to the vote. "There's a lot of unanswered questions, and I feel really strongly about the fact that some of these are safety and welfare questions."

The Florida Department of Commerce and other agencies will review the plan, which could take several months.

The Orange County Commission will then need to vote on a final approval at a later date.

Since its announcement in April 2022, the project has met a slew of concerns from residents, with topics including traffic, transportation, school capacity, location, affordability and attainability.

The proposed project sits on 114.23 acres on Hartzog Road, generally bounded by Hartzog Road to the north and east and State Road 545 to the west. 

Disney is working with The Michaels Organization to build about 1,400 units of mixed-income housing in the area, more than 1,000 of which will be reserved as affordable. 

Disney officials said groundbreaking for the project, if approved, is targeted for late 2024 with the first units anticipated to be completed in 2026.

For more information on the project, click here.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates soon.


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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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