Sustainable Living: Welcome to the First U.S. Car-Free Neighborhood Designed that Way

ON 09/15/2021 AT 09:26 PM

A new 761 apartment complex rising on a 17-acre lot in Tempe, Arizona, just outside Phoenix, bills itself as the first community designed from the ground up as a place with no cars allowed – and access to discounted public transport built into the rent.

A park in Culdesac Tempe

Artist's rendering of a park in car-free Culdesac Tempe, Photo: Culdesac Tempe

The site, which will eventually cost $170 million to build, will be available for first residents to move in starting in the summer of 2022.

It is called Culdesac Tempe and it may revolutionize the concept of what apartment living is like, while also virtually eliminating the main source of carbon emissions in most urban areas – cars.

The concept may sound a little too hard to imagine, but it is a complex where the residents who live there must sign up to an agreement not to park a car within a quarter mile of the complex.

It is a place designed for the estimated 1,000 human beings who will live there first, with vehicle access coming nearly dead last on the priorities list.

That pretty much knocks out any possibility of doing an afternoon’s shopping in the family SUV, pulling up in a driveway, and then bringing them indoors. In fact, this apartment complex has no inner roads other than those needed for emergency purposes. Its layout includes many walkways, open spaces, and even a park for the residents.

It is designed with open-air pedestrian malls, its own grocery store, coffee shop, restaurant, and even on-premises co-working spaces for those who want to get out of the house to work virtually but would rather than commute anywhere to work. In total there is approximately 16,000 square feet of retail space provided.

There is also a half-acre park where people can picnic and walk their pets.

For those seeking to travel to and from what looks like a genuine urban oasis in Tempe, the complex is built alongside a light rail system. Other than just staying in place, in a community with most everything needed for day-to-day life, it is the most eco-friendly of the transit options available there.

The facility also includes limited space for car-share docking to encourage that, centralized ride-hail pickup zones which keep even those vehicles from arriving on your doorstep, and even docks for scooters should you have one or more.

To build on the car-free design concept for Culdesac Tempe, renters arriving as the first units open for move-in will receive complimentary access to the ride-share company Lyft’s Pink subscription service, discounted pricing on an entire fleet of the well-known Bird scooter brand, and free unlimited passes on the Valley Metro transit system.

The designers of the complex have provided for limiting parking for visitors who may want to learn how this new “other half” lives.

At this writing rents start from around $1,000 a month for a studio apartment to $2,200 for a three-bedroom one.

The developers of Culdesac Tempe have already raised over $17 million in venture capital around the idea so far. Based on the interest in this first facility, they are already in the planning stages for another site.

If they were to add renewable energy options to power the site, greywater recycling systems, and passive cooling to their apartment designs, this could be the springboard for an entirely new way of thinking about sustainable urban living.