Universal Orlando pledges affordable housing day before road vote

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Universal Parks and Resorts on Monday pledged 20 acres of land for affordable housing in Florida, a day before the company asks county officials for millions of dollars for road construction that will allow it to build a third theme park.

The theme park company said the land for affordable housing will accommodate 1,000 mixed-use housing units in Orlando. The metro area is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis for its hospitality-driven workforce.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has made affordable housing a top priority and had recommended working with corporate partners to come up with solutions to the metro area’s housing needs.

The announcement by Universal came a day before company officials were going before the Orange County Commission in an effort to secure $125 million to help extend a road through a 750-acre property. The company intends to build its Epic Universe theme park on the property.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that residents of two adjacent neighborhoods are opposed to the use of public money from a special taxing district for the road extension.

Universal Orlando Resort CEO John Sprouls told the newspaper that the housing plan had been in the works for months and has nothing to do with the road-funding vote going before the county commission.

Universal also said it would make another three acres available for mass transit.

In Orange County, almost a third of households spend a third or more of their income on housing, a threshold that is considered cost-burdened.

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