Developer Is Building Car-Free Neighborhoods: How Would It Work?

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
car-free
Culdesac, a new community in Phoenix, Arizona is being built car-free at a cost of $140M. It bills itself as the world’s first post-car rental real estate development. People take to the streets on their bikes, skateboards and other non-motorized forms of transportation for the car-free street 28th CicLAvia event return to its 2010 debut route, dubbed “Heart of LA,” in Los Angeles Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. Image: AP Photo/Christopher Weber

A new community in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, is deliberately being built with a “zero residential parking” mandate so that it can be totally car-free.

The 1,000-person Culdesac Tempe development is set to open in the fall of 2020.

The founders, Ryan Johnson, a former founding team member of the online real estate platform Opendoor, and Jeff Berens, an economic development specialist, say that the idea is to give people the option of living a car-free lifestyle.

“The goal is to create a city where everyone can access jobs and amenities without feeling like they need to own a car. Some people may still choose to own a car, but the structure of the city would be set up to enable a car-free lifestyle,” said Berens.

The neighborhood is a $140 million project and is capitalized by restaurants, a market hall, a grocery store, and a gym. It will have a light rail that connects to Downtown Tempe, the airport and Arizona State University.

Culdesac, which bills itself as the world’s first post-car rental estate development, intends to establish a vibrant people-focused neighborhood.

At Culdesac Temple there will be parking areas reserved for visitors and car-based modes of transportation. However, residents will not have private cars or parking.

The company announced that it has already raised $10 million in venture capital funding to invest in its corporate operations.

However, Culdesac is not alone in its car-free living vision, given that cars are proving to be a continuing threat to pedestrian and cyclist safety.

A Freiburg, Germany, neighborhood has gone car-free, and areas of Oslo, Barcelona, and Copenhagen are also embracing this trend.

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“The history of cities and urban development is very much one of one place pioneering something new and then other places replicating it and making it something better,” says Berens.

“We expect what we are doing in Tempe to set a precedent for a different type of development and many cities have already reached out to us about wanting to incorporate some of the things we are doing in Tempe in other places.”

For three years running, Maricopa County, where Tempe is located, has been the fastest-growing county in the U.S. To Berens and Johnson, it was a good place to start.