In December, 1996, Rev. Allen T.D. Wiggins commenced the development of a long term strategic plan aimed at meeting the diverse needs of the rapidly growing congregation and surrounding community. An expanded vision statement was implemented and embraced the desire: “To change the community by meeting the needs of the total man.” Rev. Wiggins embarked upon making an intentional and visible difference in the Washington Shores community by partnering with other organizations that could share in the vision. As far back as 1984, 2.3 acres of land were purchased and became the site for the construction of a new edifice on Orange Center Boulevard/Washington Shores in Orlando. This location became the centralized focal point, creating an impetus that would ultimately lead to a vision for community wide impact. Since that time, the expanded strategic plan places more emphasis on community involvement and economic development as a complement to the development of low and moderate income housing.
In 1998 two very critical parcels of land became available in the Washington Shores area that were strategically located to foster a real community impact. The first parcel was a 15 acre piece of undeveloped land on the corner of John Young Parkway and Columbia Street and the second, a 4 acre parcel of land with a substandard 80 unit apartment complex. Knowing that both parcels were critical to the advancement and the revitalization of the community, Rev. Wiggins lead the partnership that purchased the undeveloped 15 acre parcel.
The vision for the 15 acre parcel is expressed in a master plan that combines sanctuary, a performing arts venue, a 30,000 square foot commercial/retail building and a 120 unit mid-rise apartment/seniors housing complex. The remainder of the parcel has been subject to study with a focus on total development of all the facilities in keeping with the commercial retail/residential housing vision.
At the present time, the 15-acre parcel now has a new facility constructed to accommodate 700 people. The ownership and the leadership are committed to the completion of the total scope of the plan and are poised to begin.
THE VILLAGE OF ORLANDO, INC.
To further expand the vision of community redevelopment seeded by the initially purchased Orange Center Boulevard location and the 15 acre parcel, Pastor Allen took on the challenge of forming The Village of Orlando, (TVO) Inc., with an emphasis and focus on providing affordable and attainable housing. The Village of Orlando, Inc. is a not for profit 501c(3) organization located in Central Florida, committed to the revitalization of low-income, substandard and drug infested communities. The emphasis is the development of the surrounding community through the construction and renovation of affordable and attainable housing, with a special focus on moderate and low income residents.
In September, 1998, TVO purchased Malibu Village, a 4 acre, 80 unit apartment community located in the Washington Shores area of the City of Orlando. This complex had been substandard and a haven for drug abuse and crime for several decades; with most units lacking heat, air conditioning, or carpet and/or functioning appliances. These inadequacies were further compounded by leaking roofs, major plumbing and electrical issues and substantial tree and landscaping overgrowth, all of which the previous owners had been cited for by the City’s Code Enforcement Board. TVO worked with and met the requirements of the Code Enforcement Board to address all outstanding issues and bring the property into compliance.
The complex was renamed Hope Village Apartment Homes and TVO made an initial investment of approximately $300,000 to address all code enforcement issues and to address other immediate concerns. This initial work gave a preliminary “face lift” to the Hope Village. New roofs were installed, trees were trimmed, landscaping planted, grass and shrubbery were added, new windows and doors were installed, and the entire complex was cleaned and painted.
TVO has formed partnerships with a number of community organizations to further the revitalization of Hope Village. Realizing that the initial investment was only the first step in revitalizing this community, TVO immediately began seeking grant opportunities from the local government. In 2000, through a partnership effort between TVO and Central Florida H.A.N.D.S., Inc. a Home Grant was realized via the City of Orlando in the amount of $908,000 to aid in enhancing the quality of life for the residents of this community. Florida Community Partners and Florida Community Capital Corporation joined with TVO to institute strong financial controls and refinance the existing mortgages. All of these investments and partnerships have resulted in one of the most attractive, stabilized complexes, with a 95% occupancy rate, in the Washington Shores area.
In November of 2005, TVO, with the financial support of Florida Community Partners and Florida Community Capital Corporation, acquired the Verandas, a 8 acre planned urban development of 56 homes housing low and moderate income residents in the Pines Hills area of Orlando. At one time, The Verandas was an outstanding community. However, years of neglect created a substandard subdivision, overgrown, in disrepair and attracting the criminal element.
TVO has marshaled both resources and partnerships not only to physically restore the homes but also to provide the support services that will encourage the typical “long term renters” to transition to attainable home ownership. The physical rehabilitation plan is replacing roofs, gutters and central air conditioning units, trimming trees, upgrading the community lighting, resurfacing the roads, replacing landscaping, refinishing the interiors, replacing flooring and installing new appliances. The project has relationships with The Urban League and a network of Churches to reach out to low and moderate income families. At the same time, the project has carefully crafted relationships with several lenders, credit counselors, and governmental organizations in an attempt to address the financing needs of those borrowers with limited income and credit challenges.
In August of 2007 The Village of Orlando secured a HOME Fund grant for $220,000 from the City of Orlando. This was leveraged to secure a loan with M & I Bank for $700,000 to acquire Hope Estates, a 12 unit affordable apartment complex. Also, because of the grant given from the city, the project was able to secure mission funds from The Hope Church organization for pre-development and HQS compliance. Most recently, The Village was awarded $926,290 in HOME funds through the City of Orlando for the acquisition and rehabilitation of Hope Square, a 38 unit affordable apartment complex located on Orange Center Blvd. These funds were leveraged to secure a loan with M & I Bank for $1,560,000.00 for acquisition and rehabilitation of the complex. In addition to the apartment complexes acquired, renovated and managed over the past decade, TVO has participated in the acquisition and rehabilitation of several single family homes within the Washington Shores community. In 2009, TVO was identified as one of three non-profit organizations to partner with the City of Orlando in administering $1.5M of the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) grant for both rental and resale activity; which speaks to the trust and reputation that our organization has earned as a quality provider of affordable housing.
TVO’s most recent initiative is The Village Square, a 30,000 square foot commercial facility providing lease space to over 20 retail, professional and community organizations. More than just a building, The Village Square serves to instill the spirit of `the village’ within the greater Washington Shores community by establishing itself as the areas’ center for business and community development. A centerpiece of The Square is a brand-new training facility and community meeting room. This training facility serves as the meeting place for life skills training, with great emphasis on job skills training.