Disney’s MASSIVE expansion more than fun rides and fairy dust

Storyliving by Disney, a Disney brand, is reportedly planning to build out a residential community in North Carolina called Asteria.

“The community will come to life on 1,500 acres in the heart of North Carolina’s picturesque Chatham County. Ideally situated in the town of Pittsboro, residents will have access to metropolitan amenities with the charm of a small town,” a press release from Storyliving by Disney reads.

“Plans call for more than 4,000 residential units including single-family and multi-family homes, with some home sites specifically designated for 55+ adults. The Asteria community will be part of the larger, award-winning Chatham Park master-planned community by Preston Development Company, co-founded by Julian ‘Bubba’ Rawl and Tim Smith,” the press release continues.

According to Fox Business Network, homeowners in Asteria will have access to “a host of Disney-esque entertainment and activities options, including a clubhouse, wellness center, community garden, restaurants, sport courts and an extensive trail system.”

Why the name Asteria? Because of the flower.

“We chose the community’s name to pay homage to the native North Carolina aster flower. The flower is also a namesake of the Greek goddess Asteria whose tears of stardust fell to the Earth and sprouted the first aster flowers,” Walt Disney Imagineering portfolio executive Shawn Montague said.

“We thought it was a beautiful way to honor North Carolina’s natural beauty from the Earth to the sky, in our campus of discovery,” he added.

The community will reportedly begin retailing homes in 2027. Smith, one of the co-founders of the Preston Development Company, expects to be selling houses like hotcakes once that happens.

“People are looking for a place to put a site for a new factory or office, and I think they’re going to look at Chatham County. Pittsboro is going to move up in their list of places to be just because Disney is locating there, so I think it’s a big plus. In the next five years, we’ll be selling between 750 and 1,000 homes a year just in Chatham Park,” he told local station WTVD.

Local officials are for their part thrilled over the prospect of Disney building out a community in their midst.

“We are excited to learn that Storyliving by Disney selected Pittsboro, North Carolina, for its second residential community in the United States,” Chatham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Dasher said. “Chatham County looks forward to working with the Town of Pittsboro, Disney, Chatham Park, and DMB Development as the Asteria community comes to life in the coming years.”

“This announcement is the latest major economic development project to choose Chatham County. We are thrilled about the innovative and unique lifestyle that this community will offer our residents as well as a variety of great jobs for our local and regional workforce,” he added.

Notice what Dasher said about this being Disney’s “second residential community in the United States.” This is true.

The first community, Cotino, was announced in February 2022 and will be situated in Rancho Mirage, California. The master-planned community of Celebration in Florida was founded by The Walt Disney Company in the mid-1990s.

“For nearly 100 years, Disney has shared stories that have touched the hearts and minds of people all around the world,” Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement when Cotino was announced last year.

“As we prepare to enter our second century, we are developing new and exciting ways to bring the magic of Disney to people wherever they are, expanding storytelling to storyliving. We can’t wait to welcome residents to these beautiful and unique Disney communities where they can live their lives to the fullest,” he added.

Responding to the Asteria announcement, critics were left a bit skeptical of the whole concept and of Disney’s ability to correctly execute this plan.

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