Cashiers North Carolina A Vision for Staying Rural by Design Advisory Services Panel
Report Summary:

Cashiers is a special place. Located high on a plateau in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is a quaint mountain community with a rich history, an engaged citizenry, and breathtaking natural scenery. It is also known for its diverse shopping, award-winning restaurants, and abundant outdoor recreation activities, including golf, fishing, hiking, boating, rock climbing, and more. Cashiers has many active and concerned residents and organizations who have collectively accomplished a great deal. They have created a first-class Village Green and Commons with an active community center, a park with a playground, two stages, outdoor sculptures, and trails.

Cashiers can also be proud of its award-winning schools, its world-famous resorts, and its many philanthropic endeavors. Yet despite its obvious charms, Cashiers faces many challenges, and without a proactive strategy for addressing these challenges, there is no guarantee that the qualities that have made Cashiers special will not be diminished. Put another way, Cashiers will not stay special by accident! This is because the world is changing faster than ever. What is changing? Well, almost everything: the economy, technology, demographics, consumer attitudes, market trends, extreme weather, and many other factors are affecting communities around the globe. In addition to these global trends, Cashiers is facing some challenges that are unique to rapidly growing resort communities. These include the rising cost of land and housing, the impacts of growing tourism and associated motor vehicle congestion, the pressure to develop key parcels that have shaped Cashiers’s identity and setting for generations, and a lack of tools to ensure that new development is built in harmony with the natural environment and existing community character. Understandably, residents of small towns and rural communities do not like change, but change is inevitable.

The real question for Cashiers is not whether it will grow and change—but how. There are only two kinds of change in today’s world: planned change or unplanned change. Cashiers can grow by choice or by chance, by default or by design. It can accept whatever comes its way, or it can shape the future it wants. Growth is about choices. New development can respect nature or ignore it. Cashiers can encourage development in the Village Center or out of town, along the highway. It can design for pedestrians, or it can design for cars. It can raise its expectations for the quality of new development, or it can accept off-the-shelf, “Anywhere USA” design. The ULI Advisory Services panel recognizes that local residents have already identified most of the major challenges, but the panel believes that simply reacting to proposals and postponing action on long-acknowledged problems will be insufficient in a rapidly changing economic environment. The panel also recognizes that while many of its recommendations will require significant investment, money almost always follows good ideas. What is more, the recommendations that follow are not just the panel’s own. They grew out of what the panel heard from the residents of Cashiers.

Report Summary: Cashiers is a special place. Located high on a plateau in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is a quaint mountain community with a rich history, an engaged citizenry, and breathtaking natural scenery. It is also known for its diverse shopping, award-winning restaurants, and abundant outdoor recreation activities, including golf, fishing, hiking, boating, rock climbing, and more. Cashiers has many active and concerned residents and organizations who have collectively accomplished a great deal. They have created a first-class Village Green and Commons with an active community center, a park with a playground, two stages, outdoor sculptures, and trails.

Cashiers can also be proud of its award-winning schools, its world-famous resorts, and its many philanthropic endeavors. Yet despite its obvious charms, Cashiers faces many challenges, and without a proactive strategy for addressing these challenges, there is no guarantee that the qualities that have made Cashiers special will not be diminished. Put another way, Cashiers will not stay special by accident! This is because the world is changing faster than ever. What is changing? Well, almost everything: the economy, technology, demographics, consumer attitudes, market trends, extreme weather, and many other factors are affecting communities around the globe. In addition to these global trends, Cashiers is facing some challenges that are unique to rapidly growing resort communities. These include the rising cost of land and housing, the impacts of growing tourism and associated motor vehicle congestion, the pressure to develop key parcels that have shaped Cashiers’s identity and setting for generations, and a lack of tools to ensure that new development is built in harmony with the natural environment and existing community character. Understandably, residents of small towns and rural communities do not like change, but change is inevitable.

The real question for Cashiers is not whether it will grow and change—but how. There are only two kinds of change in today’s world: planned change or unplanned change. Cashiers can grow by choice or by chance, by default or by design. It can accept whatever comes its way, or it can shape the future it wants. Growth is about choices. New development can respect nature or ignore it. Cashiers can encourage development in the Village Center or out of town, along the highway. It can design for pedestrians, or it can design for cars. It can raise its expectations for the quality of new development, or it can accept off-the-shelf, “Anywhere USA” design. The ULI Advisory Services panel recognizes that local residents have already identified most of the major challenges, but the panel believes that simply reacting to proposals and postponing action on long-acknowledged problems will be insufficient in a rapidly changing economic environment. The panel also recognizes that while many of its recommendations will require significant investment, money almost always follows good ideas. What is more, the recommendations that follow are not just the panel’s own. They grew out of what the panel heard from the residents of Cashiers.

RELATED
Webinar

Nature Positive and Net Zero: Nature based Solutions for Real Estate

Leading real estate organizations have begun to incorporate biodiversity into their overall sustainability strategies, recognizing that protecting and restoring natural functions is integral to reducing emissions and protecting asset value. View this...
Video

ULI TAP Curtis Infrastructure Initiative

Investigate the perceived/actual mismatch between the location of jobs and housing in the Indianapolis metropolitan region.
Report

Social Spaces Resilient Communities - Social Infrastructure as a Climate Strategy for Real Estate

Social gathering spaces, like parks, plazas, restaurants, cafes, gyms, even lobbies and atriums, and much more, are a key strategy real estate can use to create strong communities that are better prepared for climate risks. Social Spaces, Resilient C...
Topics
Development
Centers and Initiatives
Advisory Services Committee

Featured Content Pillars

  • Housing and Communites
  • Real Estate Finance and Investment
  • Shaping Successful Cities and Regions
  • Sustainability and Economic Performance
  • Innovation in Development Practice