City Of Orlando Plans To Buy 800 Apartment Units

Florida Hospital, Florida Citrus Sports and CNL Financial, called Lift Orlando Inc.  

“Mixed income housing will be the preferred model for new housing in these areas — not purely luxury and not just a concentration of poverty,” said Eddy Moratin, executive director of Lift Orlando, in an interview.

He said the plan is still just a proposal, and that financing details for new housing have not been finalized yet. But he said Lift Orlando is talking to developer partners about the plans. The purchase plan was posted Tuesday on a City Council agenda for a March 9 meeting. According to the documents filed, the City is requiring that building permits for demolition be pulled within nine months; demolition begin in 12 months; and demolition be completed in 18 months. Fannie Mae foreclosed on the apartments in 2013 after the owners went bankrupt.  

“It is the City’s goal to partner with developers interested in long term, mixed income or affordable housing communities that complement the surrounding neighborhoods,” a staff report said.

The complexes to be resold to Lift Orlando are Washington Shores, which includes 56 buildings at 2021 Orange Center Blvd.; Orange Manor, 2205 Orange Center Blvd.; and Nichols, 541 S. Cottage Hill Rd. Those apartments are about a half-mile south of the Citrus Bowl. The remainder of the city’s planned purchases are on the west side of Orlando, but are further from the stadium. The stadium, built in 1936, just completed a $210 million renovation, and local leaders believe the area is ripe for redevelopment. But the zip code that contains the Citrus Bowl has a poverty rate of 36.3 percent and median household income of just $23,950, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Lift Orlando has relied on data provided by the Orlando-based consulting and data company Polis Institute, which says it surveyed 1,500 adults about the neighborhood. Members of Lift Orlando’s board include some heavy hitters: —Thomas Sittema, CEO of Orlando-based CNL Financial Group —Sy Saliba, chief marketing officer at Florida Hospital —Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, which organizes the Citrus Bowl college football game. —Bill Dymond, president and CEO of law firm Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed. —Eddy Moratin, president of his own Orlando business consulting firm. Lift Orlando says it wants to help the local neighhborhood and not just gentrify it by bringing in upscale development. So far, Lift Orlando and Polis report they have engaged about 200 volunteers to hold community events, design local artwork and beautify a local park. They also report working with Orange Center Elementary School and with John H. Jackson Community Center. Part of the background information for the group emerged in 2009 from a three-year study by Polis, commissioned by James Seneff, chairman of CNL. It found 100 neighborhoods in the Orlando area that were “distresssed” by poverty. That report, titled “Seeking the Welfare of the City” recommended an approach to combatting poverty known as Asset-Based Community Development According to Lift Orlando’s website, it’s primary goals include removing barriers to education, like hunger or homelessness, and improving graduation rates. “In order for Orlando to reach its full economic potential we must address these social obstacles,” Sittema said in a recent blog post on the website.   Source:  Orlando Sentinel  


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