In a 4-2 vote this week, Orange County, FL, commissioners approved development and rezoning plans for The Grow, a $1-billion, mixed-use "agrihood" in Orlando, FL, the Orlando Business Journal reported.
Orlando-based developer Project Finance & Development LLC said the 1,189-acre project in a rural patch of East Orlando will include a community garden – which will supply the neighborhood's restaurant – more than 2,000 homes, a 20-acre park, biking trails, an elementary school and 172,000 square feet of commercial space.
Opponents of the project argued that it will necessitate additional roadwork and threatened to spoil one of the area's last undeveloped wildlife habitats, which is also used as a recreation area. Advocates maintained that The Grow takes a sustainable approach to the area's inevitable development.
The project could break ground as early as next summer with the first phase featuring a 9-acre working farm and community barn, community gardens and a park, as well as some homes. The ability to grow locally sourced produce was one of the key motivators for The Grow, Dwight Saathoff, president of Project Finance & Development, told the Orlando Business Journal.
In a similar decision last year, the Santa Clara City Council, in California, voted to fund an affordable housing agrihood as a unique way to deal with that area's shortage of affordable residential inventory. City council members called the development's 1.5-acre community garden the "first of its kind for Santa Clara."
Developers nationwide have been tapping into consumer desire for a more community-centric lifestyle and have started offering more farm-focused living options. According to the Urban Land Institute, the number of agrihoods across the country — also known as conservation communities — has risen from just a few to more than 200 in the last 20 years. Amenities range from community gardens to raising farm animals to weekly neighborhood dinners, and residents are paying a premium for the experience. Homebuilders like D.R. Horton and PulteGroup’s Del Webb division have also entered the agrihood market with developments in Texas and California, and Texas businessman H. Ross Perot Jr. built one of the first-ever agrihoods, near Dallas.