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Neighborhood of the future? No-car community coming to Tempe in 2021

Cities in the Valley of the Sun have dismally low walkability scores, but that isn't stopping one real estate developer from bringing a no-car community to Tempe.
Credit: Community design and architecture by Opticos Design

PHOENIX — The Valley is a sprawling metropolitan area connected by a maze of roadways, highways and interchanges to conveniently get you from Glendale to Phoenix to Chandler, or any place in between.

It’s also a place with a dismally low walkability score. Walkscore.com ranks Phoenix’s walkability at 41, with Glendale, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Scottsdale getting successively lower walkability scores in a list of the 141 cities with populations over 200,000.

But that isn’t stopping a real estate developer, Culdesac, from looking at a patch of land situated on Apache Boulevard between McClintock and the Loop 101 in Tempe and seeing what they hope is the future: A no-car community, built on a transit line, with amenities right outside your door to dissuade you from using a vehicle.

“The most important thing for us when we think about building a neighborhood is building a community. Culdesac Tempe is our first community. It’s the first car-free community built from scratch in the U.S.,” said Lava Sunder, the general manager of Culdesac Tempe.

Like many things this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined how many Americans live and work. Sunder points out that the pandemic has offered a new perspective on how American communities are built.

“The pandemic has made us realize how much room in our cities is devoted to cars. Around 100 cities in the U.S. have made changes to their transportation networks to allow more space for people," said Sunder.

The pandemic’s popularization of work-from-home and remote working situations for many Americans and Culdesac’s "cities built for people rather than for cars" mentality seem to be key factors in attracting future residents to Culdesac Tempe.

Even with changes in work location, however, many long-time residents of the Valley deem it necessary to have a car to get around. And that's probably why a bulk of the future residents of Culdesac Tempe aren’t Arizonans themselves.

According to Sunder, 60% of the waitlist is comprised of people from cities with an already high bike and walkability scores like Denver, New York and San Francisco.

“We find a lot of remote workers are attracted to the idea of living at Culdesac where maybe they don’t have to go into the office every day but they have these amenities, and most importantly, they have a community to tap into,” Sunder said. “Culdesac Tempe is also a great place for folks who work in downtown Tempe. It’s just a ten-minute light rail ride away and it’s a very easy bike ride away.”

The Tempe location and its residents are just the starting point for Culdesac. According to Sunder, the company’s ultimate goal is to create a car-free city.

“We’re starting with Tempe, with 1,000 people. Then we are going to move to 10,000 people and eventually, we’re going to build a 100,000-person car-free city,” said Sunder.

The community sits in front of the Smith-Martin and Apache Blvd. light rail line and will offer it’s approximately 1,000 residents amenities like a co-working space, site-wide Wi-Fi, bookable office space, a grocery store, a coffee shop and a restaurant. The few parking spaces the community will offer will be for the residents’ visitors and people who want to shop at the community’s grocery store or the coffee shop.

Pricing hasn’t been finalized but studio apartments will start at around $1,000 and one-bedroom apartments will be about $1,400. Culdesac will be open to its residents in 2021.

If you are interested in living a no-car lifestyle you can head to Culdesac’s website and join the waitlist.

For more information on Culdesac and to see what the community will look like check out the video below:


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