Inspired by the redevelopment of the Citrus Bowl, Central Florida business leaders came together with residents living in the historic neighborhoods surrounding the Citrus Bowl (known as Lake Lorna Doone and Sunset Lake) to break the historic cycle of poverty in this region. LIFT Orlando was founded as a partnership between Florida Citrus Sports and community leaders like Tom Sittema, Advent Health, Orlando Health, the law firm of Lowndes, Boyd Development Corporation, BAGS, Zero Chaos and SeaWorld Orlando. These companies and business leaders were joined by The Hope Church which already had a proven, local track record of successful, resident-led initiatives in housing, education, wellness and economic development in economically challenged areas of our city. The shared vision of the residents and business leaders included breaking the cycles of poverty through neighborhood revitalization and accelerating community transformation, with specific goals including:
- High quality, mixed income housing development.
- Delivering an effective cradle to career education plan that begins with early childhood education and continues through job placement into promising careers.
- Collaborating with local nonprofits and residents to create a mix of high quality facilities, programs, and services that enhance health and quality of life while honoring the history of the neighborhood.
- Coordinating entrepreneurship and employment programs that stimulate the neighborhood economy, increase income levels per family and ensure long term economic viability.
The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Board of Directors approved a Program Related Investment (PRI)/Loan in the amount of $4 million to purchase land, pay for closing costs and demolition. The boarded up, vacant and largely dilapidated residential apartment building located on the land was demolished and a new unified development with best-in-class mixed income multifamily residences was built where residents thrive. The majority of residential units are being re-developed to be affordable to a diverse population of families who typically earn wages at or below the area median income. Our initial investment has led to others joining to create nearly $100,000,000 of investment to date including early childhood education facility, a new Boys and Girls Club called the Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis Family Branch, a health center jointly funded by Advent Health, Orlando Health and Florida Blue and a new senior housing facility.
The next phase of LIFT includes the design for Lake Lorna Doone Park. As the healthy and thriving neighborhood community is built, children grow up with hope and return with joy which fulfills the vision of LIFT Orlando of bringing hope and opportunity to the residents of this City of Orlando community.