Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Orange County Commissioners celebrated the start of construction on Catchlight Crossings, an innovative, affordable housing community, which is a public-private partnership between Universal Orlando Resort, Wendover Housing Partners and Orange County, Florida Government.
Orange County said it is an important step toward addressing Central Florida’s critical need for affordable housing options. This local project features 1,000 affordable apartment homes, on-site amenities and services, retail and play areas, and access to transportation and nearby Central Florida tourism and hospitality jobs.
Catchlight Crossings sits on 20 acres of land that was donated by Universal’s not-for-profit, Housing for Tomorrow. The land is located just east of the Orange County Convention Center in the International Drive Activity Center and will be exclusively used as an innovative solution to affordable housing. Catchlight Crossings supports Orange County’s Housing for All initiative designed to create lasting community-based solutions for expanding housing options, improving affordability, and providing access to diverse and vibrant neighborhoods for Orange County residents.
“Affordable housing is one of the region’s most pressing issues and today’s groundbreaking reinforces our commitment to be part of the solution and give back to the community that we have called home for more than 30 years,” said John Sprouls, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Universal Destinations & Experiences.
Developed by Wendover Housing Partners, an expert in affordable housing communities, with primary construction lending provided by Chase, Catchlight Crossings will feature an on-site, tuition-free Bezos Academy preschool, in addition to educational opportunities offered in partnership with the University of Central Florida. It will also offer on-site medical offices, 16,000-square feet of retail space, community event space and an array of amenities, including resort style pools, a fitness center, game room, technology cafes, bike and walking paths, a community garden and four acres of open green space.
The community’s transportation center, including buses, ride sharing and employer shuttles, will make access to area employers more convenient for residents. The community will also be near the proposed Sunshine Corridor, a new east-west rail corridor connecting SunRail’s main line to the Orlando International Airport and the Orange County Convention Center, serving more than 125,000 workers.
“Catchlight Crossings is more than just a roof over someone’s head. When it comes to our residents, we want to enhance their quality of life through safe, secure housing, free childcare, easy transportation access and more,” said Jonathan Wolf, founder and CEO of Wendover Housing Partners. “Together with Universal we are redefining what affordable housing can and should be and creating a model that can be replicated to help address the affordable housing crisis on a national level.”
Catchlight Crossings will remain an affordable community in perpetuity and is open to anyone who meets specific income and other resident requirements. The majority of the units – 75 percent – will be designated as affordable and reserved for households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area’s median income. Low-Income Housing Tax Credits are a component in financing the development of the community, therefore rents for those units will be set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“At a time when access to affordable housing in Central Florida is at its most critical, we are pleased to work with Wendover to provide funding for the development of this uniquely special community at Catchlight Crossings,” said Tammy Haylock-Moore, Managing Director, Chase Community Development Banking. “Affordable housing with access to education and opportunity levels the playing field for all to thrive and sets an example for what can be done in other communities.”
The first phase of Catchlight Crossings is expected to open in 2026. Destination Parkway will provide access to the community from the south, and a future Kirkman Road Extension will provide access from the west.
Joining Orange County Mayor Demings was District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson, District 4 Commissioner Maribel Gomez Cordero, and District 6 Commissioner Michael “Mike” Scott. Wendover Housing Partners is headquartered in Altamonte Springs.