Arizona to get America’s “first car-free neighbourhood built from scratch”

Ground has broken on a residential scheme in Arizona that its developers claim is America’s "first car-free neighbourhood built from scratch".

The $140m village in Tempe will cater for 1,000 people, but instead of streets and parking lots in front of every home, residents will open their front doors to greenery, courtyards and community spaces.

Tempe is a small city just east of Phoenix.

The developer, Culdesac, says the scheme called Culdesac Tempe will have in 636 residential units and retail space on the 16-acre site, which is located next to a light rail station, giving direct access to downtown Tempe, the airport, and downtown Phoenix.

An aerial view of downtown Phoenix shows how much space is given over to cars (CyberXRef/CC BY-SA 3.0/

"The communities we are living in were optimised for the peak car era," said Ryan Johnson, Culdesac co-founder and chief executive. "Culdesac is building spaces for the post-car era. Starting next year, residents of Culdesac Tempe will be able to live life from their doorsteps, rather than seeing it through their windshields."

Residents will not have private cars or parking, but the neighbourhood will have parking for visitors. The village will offer ride-sharing services.

To fund its operations, Culdesac has raised $10m in venture capital funding led by Khosla Ventures, Initialized Capital, Zigg Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Y Combinator.

Unlike typical developments where parking can dictate design, Culdesac Tempe will have three times the average amount of green, community spaces.

The Culdesac team breaks ground in Tempe, Arizona (Culdesac)

A food store, coffee shop, coworking space, market hall, and other retail units are planned.

On design, Culdesac is working with architect Daniel Parolek, a champion of walkable urban planning.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said: "We have found the Culdesac team to be true partners with our city council and its neighbourhood communities, and we look forward to bringing the country’s first car-free community to life in our city."

Culdesac is evaluating locations for more such projects, including in cities such as Dallas, Denver, and Raleigh-Durham.

"Because the power of transportation innovation is larger at scale, we’re considering 50-100 acre sites for our next project," said Jeff Berens, Co-Founder and COO of Culdesac. "People are ready to leave their cars behind for the walkable and vibrant lifestyle that comes from living in a car-free neighbourhood."

Top image: Artist’s impression of Culdesac Tempe, Arizona (Culdesac)

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