In an email response to GrowthSpotter, Luz Buckley, an executive assistant at the Ocoee-based healthcare district, said a two-part grant has been awarded to the foundation, doing-business-as HWO Inc.
“The first $500,000 is to evaluate the feasibility for a Center for Creative Aging in west Orange County and the remaining $16.5 million is to assist in the development should the feasibility prove viable,” Buckley wrote. “The District is committed to the health and well-being of west Orange residents, and our board has been passionate about evaluating the needs of our senior population, so we are excited to see the results of the study.”
Last week, the Winter Garden City Commission entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the District to begin evaluating the concept.
The subject property is located on 30 acres northwest of Hennis Road and East Plant Street. The site is adjacent to the West Orange Trail, south of East Division Street. Records show the city acquired the property in 2010 for $861,700.
According to the MOU, the proposed Center for Creative Aging would include a fitness center, an aquatic center, a clubhouse, and an adult daycare along with other facilities and amenities. HWO Inc. will design, permit, construct, operate and maintain the creative aging campus.
Lesa Boettcher, the COO at the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange, responded to an inquiry from GrowthSpotter saying: the foundation does not yet have any plans or details to share.
The nonprofit has a year to perform its due diligence, under which time the City of Winter Garden will not be able to enter into any other agreement with other parties with respect to the sale or lease of the property.
Officials at the City of Winter Garden did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The vacant land is located near where the foundation has a location at 1200 E. Plant Street. The 25,000-square-foot building was built by the District last year.
West Orange Healthcare District was established by the Florida Legislature in 1949 to help the rural community address a growing need for accessible medical care. The Governor of Florida appoints its 16-member Board of Trustees.
Today, the organization acts as a healthcare investor through its strategic partnership with Orlando Health. In 2012, the district entered into an agreement to sell its physical assets to Orlando Health in exchange for $181 million, plus interest, over 15 years, according to its website.
In 2019, the West Orange Healthcare District established the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange, which absorbed the responsibilities of its Healthy West Orange movement, launched in 2016 by the District, Orlando Health and Observer Media Group.
In August, the district awarded a $1.25 million grant to the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation to convert its History Research and Education Center into the “Healthy West Orange Heritage and Cultural Center at Winter Garden.”
The project includes renovating the 5,300-square-foot building at 21 E. Plant St. and adding a space for the foundation’s HUBB program, which connects residents to local health services.
In addition, the West Orange Healthcare District recently awarded a $3 million grant to the Ocoee Community Redevelopment Agency to build a five-acre park that will include a half-mile, 10-foot-wide multipurpose trail, shaded wellness stations, a shaded pavilion, and a connecting boardwalk.