Unprecedented interest: Eric Andrews on the buzz surrounding Disney’s Asteria

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – Chatham County, particularly the town of Pittsboro, finds itself on the brink of a significant transformation with the recent announcement of Disney’s plan to establish the Asteria residential community within the parameters of Chatham Park. I sat down with Eric Andrews of Realty World to see if he could shed some light on the implications of this major development. I quickly found out that the news has sparked widespread interest and speculation, prompting inquiries from across the nation.

Eric Andrews and I have a discussion about Disney’s Asteria coming to Chatham County.

The Disney Effect: From Theme Parks to Residential Communities

The revelation of Disney’s venture into Chatham County has generated a whirlwind of curiosity and excitement. Eric Andrews, a long-time real estate expert in the region, shared that the announcement generated an unprecedented volume of inquiries, surpassing even the buzz around rumored ventures like Chick-fil-A. The news has transcended state borders, capturing the attention of individuals from California to Florida, and even Andrews’ hometown in Upstate New York.

“Pittsboro? Really?” exclaimed Andrews, recounting the responses from long-lost high school acquaintances. The development, named Asteria, comprising 1600 acres, with a portion of it geared toward the 55 and older demographic. Andrews clarifies that this portion is not your typical retirement community, emphasizing the importance of Disney’s brand reputation in setting expectations for quality.

Why Pittsboro?

The question on everyone’s mind is, why Pittsboro? Andrews contends that Pittsboro’s strategic location relative to Research Triangle Park (RTP) has made it an attractive destination for those seeking a balance between proximity to economic hubs and a relaxed lifestyle. Individuals relocating from states like California find Pittsboro’s 30-45 minute commute to RTP an appealing prospect, given their experiences of much longer commutes in their previous locations.

As for the location of Asteria within Chatham, Andrews places it in the northeastern part of Chatham Park, between the commercial section of Mosaic and the Haw River. Limited access points off 15-501 are planned, with the majority of the community situated in a corridor providing a unique blend of accessibility and tranquility.

Dispelling Misconceptions: Disney’s Residential Vision

Addressing common misconceptions, Andrews clarifies that Disney’s involvement does not imply a replication of theme park attractions within Asteria. Instead, the emphasis is on creating a residential community synonymous with Disney’s commitment to quality living. Expectations are set on walking trails, fitness facilities, community centers, and more, all under the trusted Disney branding.

“The Branding is key,” emphasizes Andrews, as the Disney name is synonymous with quality. Asteria aims to embody this quality in every aspect, fostering a sense of community and lifestyle that aligns with the Disney standard.

Timeline and Growth Expectations

With the development set to unfold over the next few years, Andrews sheds light on the timeline and expectations for growth. Groundbreaking is anticipated to commence in 2027, aligning with Chatham Park’s long-term development plan. Asteria, like Chatham Park, envisions a phased approach, starting with more affordable options and gradually progressing to larger, higher-end homes.

Andrews speculates that while Asteria may not replicate the pricing seen in Palm Springs, it won’t be considered inexpensive either. The development aligns with the broader trend of rising property values in the region, driven by increased demand and the influx of newcomers seeking a slice of Chatham County living.

Community Response: Old vs. New Pittsboro

The news of Disney’s venture has prompted varied responses from the community, particularly from long-time residents versus more recent transplants. Andrews addresses the sentiments between “old Pittsboro” and “new Pittsboro.”

“Old Pittsboro” residents, rooted in generations of history, express concerns over potential increases in property taxes, the impact on the town’s small-town charm, and fears of crowding and traffic. Some are glad to see new commercial and service options. On the other hand, “new Pittsboro” residents, especially those who have recently moved into the area are overwhelmingly against the buildout, fearing a negative impact on the town’s community and atmosphere.

“The rooftop effect,” as Andrews terms it, is already noticeable in the changing landscape of Pittsboro. With establishments like the Havoc Brewery drawing diverse crowds, there’s a palpable shift in the town’s dynamics. Expensive cars and unfamiliar faces are becoming a common sight, signaling a change that is both exciting and challenging for the local community.

Downtown Pittsboro: A Growing Hub

Downtown Pittsboro is evolving into a hub of activity, offering a distinct vibe compared to larger developments like Chatham Park and Mosaic. With unique local businesses, diverse dining options, and a thriving community, Pittsboro aims to maintain its individuality while accommodating growth.

As for potential concerns about water availability for the increasing population, Andrews assures that both water and wastewater situations are expected to improve in the coming years. The town’s infrastructure is gearing up to support the influx of residents, ensuring a sustainable and comfortable living environment.

Municipal Changes and Future Prospects

With the impending growth, questions arise about potential changes in town policies. Andrews discusses the town’s consideration of raising the height limit on buildings, particularly concerning multifamily housing projects like apartments. The demand for such projects is increasing, and discussions around building heights are indicative of the evolving landscape of Pittsboro.

Andrews suggests that the town’s leadership, under the new mayor Kyle Shipp, is attuned to the changing needs and is actively engaging in conversations to accommodate future developments. The focus on multifamily housing aligns with the broader trend of increased interest in apartment living, reflecting the diverse preferences of the growing community.

Migration Trends and Real Estate Appreciation

Reflecting on recent migration trends, Andrews points out that people are moving to Chatham County from unexpected places. While Florida remains a real estate hotspot, Texas emerges as a close second. Interestingly, individuals are relocating from Texas and Florida to Chatham County, seeking refuge from the changing dynamics in their home states.

The allure of North Carolina’s golfing facilities, medical amenities, and the peaceful environment draws residents from states experiencing rapid growth. The diversity in age groups, from retirees to young families, indicates the broad appeal of Chatham County’s lifestyle.

Embracing Change and Opportunities

As Pittsboro and Chatham County navigate this transformative period, one thing is clear: change is inevitable. The introduction of Disney’s Asteria marks a pivotal moment in the region’s history, bringing both challenges and opportunities. While concerns about preserving the town’s identity and managing growth are valid, the community’s resilience and adaptability will play a crucial role in shaping its future.

As the Asteria project unfolds and Pittsboro continues to evolve, the town’s unique charm, local businesses, and vibrant community spirit remain essential. Will Pittsboro be able to balance growth with preservation, while welcoming the possibilities that come with being a destination for those seeking a touch of Disney magic in the heart of Chatham County?

Video summary –

  • 🏡 Disney in Chatham County: Disney is coming to Chatham County, and the development is called Asteria.
  • 📰 Media Coverage: The news broke a couple of weeks ago, generating over 100 texts from people across the country, including California, Arizona, and Texas.
  • 🌍 Chatham County Appeal: Pittsboro, as an outlying area of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the country.
  • 🏞️ Asteria Details: The development will cover 1,500 acres with 4,000 residential units, estimated to house 12,000 to 16,000 people.
  • 📍 Location: Located in the northeastern part of Chatham Park, between the commercial section of Mosaic and the Haw River, with access off 15-501 and the 64 bypass.
  • 🏰 Disney Branding: Disney’s involvement is more about branding and quality standards than theme park attractions, with amenities like walking trails, fitness centers, and community centers.
  • 💰 Housing Pricing: While not reaching Palm Springs pricing, properties may not be very inexpensive, and there might be a mix of housing, possibly starting at a million dollars.
  • 🏡 Impact on Pittsboro Residents: Concerns among long-time residents about property taxes, increased traffic, and the loss of a small-town feel.
  • 🏗️ Buildout Expectations: The development is part of a 20-30 year plan, with expectations of starting construction around 2027.
  • 🤔 Community Reaction: Old Pittsboro residents are divided, with some welcoming the growth and services, while others worry about increased taxes and crowded spaces. Newer residents are generally against the development, not wanting further influx.
  • 🌆 Downtown Pittsboro Impact: The downtown area sees both challenges and opportunities, with increased traffic and inquiries about opening new businesses.
  • 🚗 Traffic and Growth: Concerns about the impact on downtown traffic and a desire for a symbiotic relationship between the downtown area and larger developments like Chatham Park and Mosaic.
  • 🏡 Housing Demand and Capacity:
    • There is a current demand for opening businesses, but capacity constraints exist.
    • A 1500-home development is anticipated, raising concerns about water availability.
    • Reassurance that water and wastewater situations are expected to improve in the next couple of years.
  • 🌆 Town Development and Chatham Park:
    • Emphasis on preventing Chatham Park’s success at the expense of downtown.
    • Efforts to ensure sewer capacity benefits the entire town.
    • Acknowledgment that Chatham Park is a competitor but a thriving downtown is beneficial for both.
  • 🍻 Downtown Revitalization:
    • Comparison with other areas (e.g., Cary) that neglected downtowns.
    • Pittsboro focuses on downtown with established businesses and a historical background.
    • Positive changes, diverse offerings, and the success of establishments like Havoc and City Tap.
  • 🏢 Real Estate and Disney Impact:
    • Increased interest in real estate due to Disney’s presence.
    • Caution about sellers raising prices prematurely.
    • Mayor’s focus on town prosperity and potential changes in building height limits.
  • 🌍 Population Migration Patterns:
    • Shift in migration from California to Florida and Texas, with a notable movement to the Carolinas.
    • People leaving Texas and Florida due to changing demographics and politics.
    • North Carolina attracting individuals from Texas and “halfbacks” from Florida, appreciating the climate and amenities.
  • 🚗 Transportation and Safety:
    • Mention of pedestrian right-of-way, safety in crosswalks, and local establishments’ accessibility.
    • Brief reference to potential changes in building height limits and concerns related to fire department capabilities.
  • 🌐 National Trends in Real Estate:
    • National focus on Florida and Texas, but significant migration to the Carolinas.
    • Movement of “halfbacks” from Florida to North Carolina due to climate, infrastructure, and quality of life.

For further updates and coverage, stay tuned to the Chatham Journal for the latest developments in Chatham County’s evolving landscape.