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Disney announces new ‘slightly dystopian’ residential community

Disney’s latest residential community will sit on 1,500 acres of land in Chatham County, North Carolina

Meredith Clark
New York
Thursday 07 December 2023 18:21 GMT
Dragon float catches fire at Disney World parade in Florida

Disney has announced new plans to develop a residential community in North Carolina, but locals believe it sounds more like something out of a dystopian novel.

On 6 November, Storyliving by Disney - a Walt Disney Company initiative - unveiled its newest residential community settled in Pittsboro in Chatham County, just outside of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. It is the second Disney-themed community in development in the United States, following the Cotino community in Rancho Mirage, California.

The Storyliving development, dubbed Asteria, will come to life with the help of Disney’s famed “Imagineers” and DMB Development in order to build a “community inspired by Walt Disney’s innate curiosity and passion for learning”. According to a press release, Asteria will sit on approximately 1,500 acres of land, featuring neighbourhood parks and walking and biking trails.

Asteria community homeowners will become part of a club with amenities and programming “designed to encourage learning and connectivity” - with a wellness and recreation center, a restaurant, sport courts, swimming pools, and a community garden. There will also be Disney-themed activities and storytelling dinners inspired by Disney classics.

Asteria - which pays homage to the state’s aster flower, as well as the namesake of the Greek goddess Asteria - is planned to have more than 4,000 residential units, featuring single-family and multi-family homes, with some specifically designated for adults 55 and older. The community is in the beginning stages of development, expected to be built by 2027.

Aerial rendering of Asteria, a new Storyliving by Disney community coming to North Carolina (Storyliving by Disney)

However, North Carolina residents seem to have mixed opinions about the newly-announced Disney development. In the r/Raleigh subreddit, many users were unsure how Storyliving by Disney will impact the local community already settled in Pittsboro.

“Not gonna lie I have no idea what to make of this,” one Reddit user wrote in response. “It sounds interesting but also somehow slightly dystopian at the same time.”

“Well, this sounds oddly sinister,” another person said.

Others were concerned about the influx of “Disney adults” - aka adults, often millennials, who are obsessed with all things Disney - ready to flood Chatham County. “A mass migration of Disney adults to NC is just what we need,” said one local, while another wrote: “We get a Disney park before we get an Ikea.”

“This is right out of Succession,” said someone else, referencing the fictional Waystar Royco’s failed idea for a luxury assisted living community, Living+.

Those who are interested in living in Asteria can join Storyliving by Disney’s mailing list. As for Cotino, which is already in development in the greater Palm Springs area, homes are expected to cost anywhere from the upper $1m to lower $2m range.

This isn’t the first time Disney has announced plans for an idyllic residential community. The town of Celebration, Florida, was originally founded by The Walt Disney Company in 1996. The small town, which emulated the small town feel of Disney’s Orlando resort, was later sold in 2004 to a private investment firm.

The Independent has contacted Disney for comment.

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