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Living car-free in the Arizona desert: inside Culdesac Tempe (full walkthru)

Just outside sprawling Phoenix, a car-free neighborhood built from scratch has gone up, the first one of its kind in the US. Modeled after walkable villages of yesteryear, Culdesac Tempe sits next to a light rail stop and has its own grocery store, restaurant, coffee shop, used clothing store, gym, and plenty of gathering spaces.

The 17-acre community will eventually have 1000 residents, but no parking except for guests (the city of Tempe waived mandated parking minimums) though there is plenty of bike parking and free annual light rail passes for all residents.

Culdesac resembles a Mediterranean white village, but it also is aiming at “desert urbanism” to provide relief from the local heat. There are no cement sidewalks (using instead pavers and decomposed granite), white paint to reflect the sun and native plants to help create a microclimate. Culdesac’s Erin Boyd explained that temperatures on their walkways have been measured at 90F (32C) on days when the pavement outside Culdesac is 120F (48C).

While currently units here are only for rent, Boyd explained that Culdesac’s expansion plans include options for residents to buy as well.