The first phase of Disney's next real estate development will include more than 300 homes, with a third of them designated for buyers ages 55 and older, Disney said today.
Last year, the company introduced its "Storyliving by Disney" concept, which it will develop first with Cotino, in Southern California's Coachella Valley. You can catch up on what Disney has announced for this project in our previous posts, Disney Announces New Residential Real Estate Business and Disney Embraces IP for California Real Estate Development.
Today, Disney Signature Experiences announced that Cotino will offer three different single-family, detached home collections:
Disney also released a site map for the "first chapter" of the Cotino development (above), noting the Longtable Park Residences that will be designated for homebuyers aged 55+. Those homebuyers will have exclusive use of Cotino's Longtable Park.
Disney also released a concept image for another park in the development, Laughing Place Ranch, "designed to celebrate Walt's love for horses with an equestrian-themed dog park featuring separate play areas for small and large pets," Disney said in its press release.
Disney said it anticipated Cotino to begin accepting pre-sale appointments "to discuss additional details including floorplans, home designs and pricing" later this year. Disney and partner DMB will begin the initial phase of residential development on Cotino's northwest corner, which borders Gerald Ford Drive and Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage.
"We're thoughtfully and intentionally bringing elements to the community to encourage camaraderie among neighbors while also using our renowned Disney placemaking to weave the essence and beauty of the Coachella Valley into the fabric of the community," said Claire Bilby, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Signature Experiences Emerging Businesses. "Alongside the developer and builders, we're creating a special place where residents will have a distinctive lifestyle that can only be found in the Cotino community."
Okay, that quote is gonna send me off into commentary land. Buckle up.
If Disney really wants to build a model community, it should pay as much attention to whom it sells as it does to what it sells. America is suffering through one of the worst housing crises in its history, while it remains awash in empty and under-occupied homes. People are priced out of housing because corporations and investors are buying a huge percentage of the homes on the market, only to keep them empty, put them up for rent at outrageous prices that leave them empty, or to offer them for short-term rental that, again, leaves them empty for a large percentage of time.
I understand that Disney's primary reason for building Cotino and developing the Storyliving concept is to make a buck - or, more accurately, a ton of bucks. To do that, Disney does not need to look at anything beyond a potential buyer's ability to pay.
But with its two previous real estate developments, Disney at least has gestured toward the idea that the people who buy there should actually live there. Disney implemented restrictions prohibiting short-term rentals in both Celebration and Golden Oak. (Though, I know, those are frequently violated, especially in Celebration.) I would love to see Disney enact a short-term rental ban in all Storyliving communities, as well.
And if anyone feels inclined to ask, yes, I support a nationwide ban on short-term rentals in all areas zoned for residential housing. Restrict short-term rentals to areas zoned for that and other commercial uses. If a resort community wants to zone specific areas for use as Airbnbs and the like, go ahead. But residential zones should prohibit short-term rentals by default. That's an essential step toward reducing investor demand that drives up the price of housing for all new buyers.
But if Disney really wants to build communities in their Storyliving developments, rather than just make a cash grab, it needs to bar sales to corporations, private equity funds, and even individual investors. The most efficient way to do that is to implement covenants that ban any rental of any Storyliving property. Then sell these homes only to individuals or couples who actually will live there.
Of course, that would substantially reduce demand for Storyliving properties, cutting the amount of money that Disney stands to make on them. So I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Instead, I expect Storyliving by Cotino, when it opens, to be yet another investor-owned ghost town that serves only as temporary rental housing for Coachella and Stagecoach, or the occasional wealthy old Disney fan who just wants to check it out.
And that won't be a community, no matter how Disney tries to spin it.
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