Culdesac Tempe reenvisions living in a big city with a car-free community

A one-of-a-kind complex in Tempe is turning heads across the country.

Meet Culdesac Tempe – an all-walkable community.

Despite urban sprawl and the idea that we need cars to get around, managers at Culdesac Tempe insist their residents are doing fine without them.

They're given bikes and discounted rates for electric scooters, Lyft and rent-a-car services. Not to mention unlimited access to the light rail.

"We want to create that idea of a cul-de-sac but in a neighborhood environment," said Erin Boyd with the Culdesac Tempe's government and external affairs.

It’s 17 acres off Apache Boulevard and McClintock Drive. A complex of 700 apartments with each resident living without a car.

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"It’s cool that something like this exists that’s right on a metro stop, it’s built around the bike lanes, everything you need," said resident Alex Chang.

It sounded like a great idea for Alex Chang, one of the 16 founding residents of Culdesac Tempe.

He was drawn by the idea of getting to know his neighbors, and the two miles worth of bike and walk paths on site.

"The idea of a car-free neighborhood is just really interesting, and I wanted to meet more like-minded people," Chang said.

That’s also what brought Vik Dhillon on board. He's the CEO and founder of Street Corner Urban Market.

"I’m a big believer in sustainability. That’s what attracted me to the site," he said.

He selected the neighborhood as his flagship Arizona location.

His grocery store will be next to the restaurant, coffee shop, co-working space, event courtyards and retail spots, Boyd said.

"Culdesac is making a difference with how we are thinking about land utilization. Right now, if you look around, especially in the Phoenix area, you see a lot of parking lots," Erin said.

The Valley is spread wide, which has made a traditional urban environment difficult here, says Dr. David Dean with Grand Canyon University.

"The challenges for builders trying to build a walkable city, a more outdoor habitable city, is that space is so prevalent, that no one wants to bring that space in together," Dr. Dean said.

Culdesac Tempe says there's a demand, though. Its first building was leased out a month before it was even open to the public.

"Try something different. You might end up liking it, and you might be really surprised," Chang said.

There are still 150 parking spots on site saved for the neighborhood to check out the restaurant, shops, and events here.

The grocery store is expected to open sometime this month, too.

Map of where the community is: