PHOTOS: Universal and Wendover Housing Break Ground on New Catchlight Crossings Affordable Housing Community

Shannen Ace

PHOTOS: Universal and Wendover Housing Break Ground on New Catchlight Crossings Affordable Housing Community

Universal Destinations & Experiences and Wendover Housing Partners broke ground Wednesday morning for Catchlight Crossings, a new affordable housing community.

Catchlight Crossings Groundbreaking Celebration

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Catchlight Crossings is a new 20-acre community in the International Drive area near Universal Orlando Resort. It will feature 1,000 units, on-site amenities and services, retail and play areas, and easy access to transportation. We first reported on the affordable housing site when Universal partnered with Wendover Housing Partners and set aside land back in 2021. The community is created through Universal’s Housing for Tomorrow initiative, which aims to “provide economically diverse housing options as part of our commitment to healthy communities” and address “the primary focus areas identified by our county leadership and will help provide innovative solutions that move our community forward – for everyone.”

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Speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony included CEO and Founder of Wendover Housing Partners Jonathan L. Wolf, EVP & Chief Administrative Officer for Universal Destinations & Experiences John Sprouls, and Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings.

Wolf said, “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.”   

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“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 Sprouls. 

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Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Pastor of Community Benefit Action Church, and Tammy Haylock-Moore, Managing Director of Community Banking for Chase, also appeared. Chase is providing construction lending for the project.

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Several other local officials took part in the groundbreaking.

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Universal and Wendover shared more concept renderings of Catchlight Crossings, which is expected to open in 2026.

Catchlight Crossings Aerial view

It will include a Community Health Care Center; University of Central Florida job training center; a tuition-free,
Montessori-inspired Bezos Academy; and a transportation center.

Catchlight Crossings BBQ
Catchlight Crossings BBQ area
Catchlight Crossings Lobby
Catchlight Crossings lobby
Catchlight Crossings Playground
Catchlight Crossings playground
Catchlight Crossings Playroom
Catchlight Crossings playroom
Catchlight Crossings Pool
Catchlight Crossings pool

Catchlight Crossings amenities will include resort-style pools, a fitness center, game rooms, and technology cafés.

Read the new press release from Universal Destinations & Experiences and Wendover Housing Partners about Catchlight Crossings below.

Catchlight Crossings Sets New Standard for Affordable Housing Communities

Universal Destinations & Experiences, Wendover Housing Partners and Orange County, Florida, form unique public-private partnership to address region’s critical housing needs 

ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2023) – Today, Universal Destinations & Experiences and Wendover Housing Partners marked the beginning of construction and revealed all-new renderings for Catchlight Crossings – a first-of-its-kind affordable housing solution that features 1,000 affordable apartment homes, on-site amenities and services, retail and play areas, and access to transportation and nearby 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 featurean 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.  

To stay updated on Catchlight Crossings, visit catchlightcrossings.com

About Wendover Housing Partners  

Headquartered in Altamonte Springs, Wendover Housing Partners, LLC is a privately held real estate development, investment and management company founded in 1995. As one of the Southeast’s premier housing companies, Wendover specializes in the development of single and multi-family homes, apartment communities, senior communities, and transit-oriented development. Wendover’s expansive portfolio of affordable and mixed-income developments demonstrates the company’s success in creating housing opportunities in a variety of economically and socially diverse neighborhoods.   

About Universal Destinations & Experiences  
Universal Destinations & Experiences, a unit of Comcast NBCUniversal, offers guests around the world the most innovative, immersive and popular entertainment experiences. Our portfolio is comprised of world-class theme parks featuring the industry’s most thrilling and technologically advanced attractions, exceptional hotels and resorts, unique merchandise, games, virtual and live entertainment experiences. We use our rich collection of stories and franchises – from Universal Pictures, Illumination, DreamWorks Animation and more – to take people to places they couldn’t imagine while creating memorable and emotionally fulfilling moments for people of all ages. Learn more at www.corporate.universaldestinationsandexperiences.com.  

About Housing for Tomorrow   

Founded in 2020 with the mission to bring more diverse, affordable housing options to Central Florida, Housing for Tomorrow is an innovative, private industry-based solution to one of the area’s most pressing issues. Universal Destinations & Experiences pledged 20 acres of land for the creation of a 1,000-unit affordable/mixed-income housing community. As a not-for-profit entity, Housing for Tomorrow will retain ownership of the land, serve as Master Developer, and ensure that the effort will provide housing for low- and moderate-income residents in perpetuity. 

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Author

  • Shannen Ace

    Shannen has been a Disney Parks fan and lover of dogs since childhood, despite Pluto's attempt to eat Shannen's Minnie Mouse doll the first time they met. They've made up now. You can email Shannen at shannen@wdwnt.com.