ORLANDO - The Walt Disney Co. is launching an ambitious effort to woo some of the nation's most affluent travelers, building multimillion dollar homes in a new gated community it's creating at its famous Florida resort.
About 30 properties - listing for $1.5 million to $8 million - will be available for purchase this year in the 980-acre Golden Oak resort community at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The company aims to ultimately build 450 homes there, each between a quarter acre and three-quarters of an acre in size.
The development will include an onsite Four Seasons hotel that offers spa services and golf course access to residents. The community will also have a clubhouse, a concierge and access to Disney's facilities. About half the acreage will be a "conservation area."
Disney's effort comes at a difficult time. Even though the nation's economy is regaining lost ground, Florida's real estate market continues to founder.
In May, the state had the nation's third-highest foreclosure rate, according to data from RealtyTrac.
Meanwhile, figures from the National Association of Realtors show Orlando's property values keep falling. The media sale price of a single-family home fell 15 percent in the first quarter property values sank 15 percent in the first quarter of the year.
Between 2007 and 2009, the average home price for the central Florida city sank more than 43 percent to $147,400.
Additionally, the Commerce Department on Wednesday said sales of new homes fell 33 percent in May to the lowest level on record.
Disney said it hopes to have the first homes constructed by next year.
Disney shares added 20 cents to $34.55 in afternoon trading Wednesday.