A Neighborhood You Should Know: Horizon West Looks to the Past for a Charming, Walkable and Back-to-nature Community
Nestled amongst the lakes of Windermere, the charm of Winter Garden and the magic of the Walt Disney World Resort, you’ll find Horizon West. It is a neighborhood designed in the image of New Urbanism, a planning and development approach based on how cities and towns had been built for the last several centuries – with walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity, and accessible public spaces.
The genesis of Horizon West lies with the owners of the orange groves that once covered southwest Orange County. After a series of devasting freezes in the 1980s destroyed their groves, they were determined to ensure the area did not develop in a typical urban-sprawl style. They came together to brainstorm, and their ideas led to partnering with Orange County officials to develop a series of villages with high-density activity centers that provide community hubs, walkable conveniences and a sense of space.
“Horizon West represents a wonderfully unique opportunity,” said Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey. “Layering new urbanism on the extraordinarily warm and engaged community of west Orange County is fostering growth that is sensitive to the environment and that blends a small-town and walkable feel with big city amenities. I am blessed to be part of the formation of this dynamic community.”
Currently 30 percent completed, Horizon West will be built around five villages and a town center. When finished, it will be home to more than 90,000 residents. The current population is 25,365.
“I remember reading stories about the freezes that disrupted the citrus industry in that area,” said David Sibila, a content services contractor who resides in Horizon West. “In the early 2000s I started seeing billboards for Horizon West, and it piqued my interest.”
Sibila and his wife, who had been living in Hunter’s Creek, moved to Horizon West in 2015.
“As parents, we were excited about the highly rated schools here,” said Sibila. “We also love nature, and the entire community is built around lakes and outdoor activities, including walking and biking trails, and direct access to lakes.”
With ample green space and a number of trails, Sibila has started running again. “It’s conducive to being active, which we love,” he admitted. “The developers did a great job of keeping the natural landscape, including the Oak and Cypress groves, so it all feels holistic and interconnected.”
The village centers offer a variety of amenities, including restaurants, shopping and a movie theatre, and everything residents may want is within walking distance or a quick bike ride away. The majority of homes are built with big front porches where people can hang out and talk with neighbors – another throwback to neighborhoods of old.
“To think a couple of decades ago this was all citrus trees,” added Sibila. “Now it’s single-family homes, condos, townhomes and duplexes with plenty of public space that promotes daily interaction. You know smart planning and creative forethought went into this.”
To get involved in your community, visit a local Neighborhood Centers for Families. Visit www.ocfl.net/NCF for more details.
Photo Caption: Shore view of Lake Mable in the Horizon West neighborhood.