ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – The Pine Hills senior community will have a new affordable housing project by the end of the year. Construction began in the future site of Hawthorne Park, on Silver Star Road and Pine Hills Road, which aspires to become the new town center of the area.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demmings was joined in the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning by District 6 Commissioner Victoria Siplin and Jonathan Wolf, CEO and founder of Wendover Housing Partners, in charge of the project.
“When we illustrate the word ‘investment’, it usually means dollars and cents,” Wolf said. “But when you invest ion the lives of our family members, in the future of our community, and the dignity of those that need our help, it takes a whole lot more than simply dollars and cents. We got to invest our time and our care, and got to put aside our self interest, really serving the greater good.
“There’s a word for people who make this kind of investment, I think, and believe it or not it’s not ‘real estate developers.’ The word is ‘heroes’,” he added.
Hawthorne Park will include 120 multifamily units, built on the site of an underused shopping center. It will also include a fitness center, theater room, computer room, activity room with kitchen, library, community garden and a dog walk. Rents will start at $740 a month for a one-bedroom unit and $880 a month for a two-bedroom. The total investment is some $27 million, the first step in the proposed rehabilitation of the Pine Hills area.
“It begins with housing and it continues with the commercial activities that we see [happening] here in the community,” said Mayor Demmings.
Demings also mentioned that many Central Florida residents are “chronically rent-stressed,” paying 30 percent of their total household income for rent payments. “And when you think of the year we’ve been having, many people are still digging themselves out of the hole,” he added.
“Since 2004, the Pine Hills residents began mapping a strategic revitalization plan for this intersection,” Commissioner Siplin explained. “They envisioned a town center comprising of public and private investments, and today’s groundbreaking simply marks another milestone fulfilling that vision. Adjacent to this affordable senior community, we have the Pine Hills Trail; across the street will soon begin the construction of the Lynx Bus Transfer Station; [Orange County Public Schools] made significant investment in rebuilding Evans High School, and we are on task to begin construction of the Pine Hills Pedestrian Road Safety Improvement projects.
“I am thrilled about this project and its ability to help attract more investors who will support the vision of this community,” she added.
Mayor Demings explained that the project was slowed down because of availability of materials due to the pandemic, but he was assured by Wendover that once groundbreaking started the project would be concluded by the end of the year.
Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org