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Housing Development is On the Horizon

Horizon West
Horizon West will encompass 21,000 acres near Winter Garden and Disney World.

While home sales remain weak and retail and office space is still abundant, developers in the Orlando area are beginning to dust off big plans. A Dallas-based investment firm partnering with an Orlando real estate development company has acquired 600 acres in the huge Horizon West mixed-use project in west Orange County.

Stratford-Land, which has 25 years of experience buying and managing property in high-growth areas for institutional investors, says the Horizon West property fits its criteria as "well positioned" and "primed for growth." Some critics of suburban development see Horizon West — on former citrus land 15 miles west of Orlando — as "boondocks," but the project is hardly remote. The 21,000-acre development is near both Winter Garden, Orange County's fourth-most populous city, and Disney World, the nation's largest single-site employer.

Boyd Development, a veteran Orlando developer working with Stratford-Land, notes that the land is on the northeast and southeast quadrants of the Western Beltway (SR 429) at the New Independence Parkway interchange. The property is bordered on the east by Lake Hancock and includes 200 acres of residential land with three miles of lakefront, adjacent to the Orange County National Golf Club.

The core is zoned for retail, medical, office and other commercial uses, and the developer plans to extend New Independence Parkway and North Porter Road.

Orange County Commissioner S. Scott Boyd, who represents the district, says the project marks the start of a long-awaited "Town Center East" for Horizon West and will provide "essential jobs and infrastructure" for residents. Scott T. Boyd, president of Boyd Development (no relation to Commissioner Boyd), says the idea is to position the master-planned property with "a strong, unified identity," a blend of high-density commercial and "some of the most desirable lakefront land in all of Orange County."