Case study: Verboten vehicles at the Tempe project


Tempe horizon. Photo by Dimitar Donovski on Unsplash

A number of places in the United States ban automobiles, but they are largely vacation towns. Think of Bald Head Island, North Carolina; Mackinac Island, Michigan; Fire Island, New York; and Vail, Colorado.

Today, what is said to be the first car-free residential rental property built from the ground up is growing just outside of Phoenix. Residents of Culdesac Tempe, 761 units, will be contractually prohibited from parking a vehicle within a quarter-mile radius of the 17-acre site.

Instead of cars and vans for their transportation, they’ll rely on a menu of discounted transportation options that are included in their monthly rents. According to the Department of Energy, passenger cars and light trucks are responsible for nearly 60% of carbon emissions in the transportation sector. And the Environmental Protection Agency reports that a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

While some wonder if people are ready to give up their wheels, leases have already been signed for around a third of the units in the first two sections, although they will not be ready to be occupied until the end of the season. next summer, according to the rental manager. Erin Boyd. But in a perhaps even better indication that some people will abandon their cars if offered viable alternatives, some 400 people have paid a fully refundable “for some reason” deposit of $ 100 to stay on a waiting list.

At the same time, it should be noted that while Boyd says there is “no real” resistance to going without automobiles, she concedes that “a lot of people” who have signed leases or handed over deposits do not even own motor vehicles. Additionally, for those who own a car and don’t want to give it up, there are plenty of other apartment choices available in the Tempe area.

But for those who no longer want monthly payments, insurance bills and car maintenance, “they’ll have a full menu of options at their fingertips,” says Culdesac co-founder and CEO Ryan Johnson.

The $ 170 million pedestrian development, which will include an on-site grocery store, restaurant and café, among other amenities, offers free unlimited passes on the Valley Metro transit system. They also have free access to a Lyft membership, preferential rates for a fleet of scooters, and a car-sharing service membership.

Mobility options

The company says its mobility package is worth almost $ 3,000 a year for residents:

  • To get around the property, a number of Bird electric scooters will be strategically placed within a 30 second walk of most front doors. Residents will be entitled to a 15 percent discount on rentals.
  • For longer trips, Lyft, also at 15% off, will take residents wherever they want to go, including Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Pickup and drop-off points will be integrated throughout the community, but again within a 30-second walk of the gates.
  • Using free passes, residents can take unlimited light rail rides anywhere the Valley Subway system passes, from Mesa in the east to Glendale in the northwest. A station is located in front of the property.
  • When an excursion requires a vehicle, electric rental cars will be available on-site through Envoy at rates as low as $ 5 per hour.

Located 2.5 miles from downtown Tempe and 20 miles from downtown Phoenix, the site will have 150 parking spaces for business visitors or residents’ guests. But without other vehicles on site, there is no need for more parking. The result: more open space. Enough to include a large dog park, swimming pool, and guest suites that residents can reserve for visitors, just reserve one using the Culdesac app.

“The communities we live in have been optimized for the automotive age,” said Johnson, “Culdesac is building spaces for the after-car era… Residents will be able to live their lives from their doorstep, rather than seeing it through their windshields. “

Property “looks like nothing” built in the United States over the past 150 years and unlike anything ever built in the Phoenix area, which is dominated by automotive housing, says Opticos’ Daniel Parolek Design, the Berkeley, Calif., Company that was general design manager for Culdesac Tempe. Parolek is credited with popularizing the term “missing intermediate housing,” a term used to describe various housing options in order to create sustainable, pedestrianized places.

In Tempe, the project is similar in character to old European villages with narrow irregular and winding paseos with a major emphasis on courtyards.

Eventually housing 1,000 residents upon completion in 2025, the apartments will feature private entrances, washers and dryers, kitchen islands and granite counters, Energy Star qualified Whirlpool appliances, hardwood floors and walk-in closets. . The mostly three-story, elevator-free buildings will be clustered around 18 courtyards – rental manager Boyd calls them “pods” – which are marketed as outdoor lounges with barbecues, fire pits, hammocks and games. water.

Culdesac will consist of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, some as apartments and others as two-story units above apartments. The units will vary in size from 500 square feet for a studio to 1,200 feet for three bedrooms.

With Arizona ownership on track, Culdesac is now considering larger projects in other markets, including Dallas, Denver and Raleigh-Durham, said co-founder and COO Jeff Berens. “Because the power of innovation in transportation is greater at scale, we are considering sites of 50 to 100 acres for our next project,” he said. “People are willing to give up their cars for the pedestrian and dynamic lifestyle that comes from living in a car-free neighborhood. “


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