Driving Change: Exploring the All-Walkable Community, Culdesac Tempe
By Sydni Sands
In the last couple of years every time my car insurance needed to be renewed, I would start dreaming of what life would be like without a car. I thought maybe I could get an electric bike or a Vespa or just Uber everywhere. The biggest thing that always stopped me was where I lived. Sure, I could move closer to downtown but still, we don’t have a great public transit system and I’m not super comfortable riding in the bike lane as cars zoom by just a few feet away. What would actually be necessary to be able to live car-free and still have access to all of our modern amenities? Culdesac Tempe is a leading example of how we can live and move in a community that centers on people instead of cars. Culdesac Tempe, located just outside of Phoenix, Arizona highlights the new trend in real estate development towards healthier living and is “the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the United States.” This unique 17-acre community is a collaboration between the real estate development company Culdesac and Opticos Design. Both of these forward-thinking companies specialize in creating sustainable and walkable communities for all to enjoy.
“The first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the US!” - Culdesac Tempe
Culdesac Tempe brings a European twist to the Arizona desert with its uniquely designed paseos and apartment units situated around beautiful courtyards that encourage residents to gather outside and enjoy the village-like community. Take a stroll down the main plaza past restaurants, coffee shops, and a coworking space and you may start to feel like you’re in Greece or Italy.
“From the very start, Culdesac invited Opticos to challenge traditional ways of thinking, and to propose a project that from a planning, architecture, and housing type perspective has never been built before.” - Daniel Parolek, Opticos Design
COMMUNITY “People-centered open space”
When working on a project like this, Opticos is especially intentional in the planning stage taking into account how their communities will support social, mental, and physical health while also providing attainability and affordability in the housing market. Culdesac Tempe has over 50 shared courtyards and a central plaza event space perfect for a weekend gathering with neighbors or hosting a bigger event like a community art market. Another unique highlight of this neighborhood is that it's made up of 100% rental apartments, making this healthy lifestyle more accessible to the greater community of Tempe.
GETTING AROUND “Live in a five-minute city”
Strolling down a peaceful paseo isn’t the only way to get around in Culdesac Tempe. Electric bikes or scooters are another fun way for residents to make their way around the neighborhood. And getting around outside of the community isn’t a problem either, Culdesac provides all residents with a free platinum pass to the light rail with a station on-site and 15% off Lyft rides.
The developers and designers of Culdesac Tempe are mission-driven change-makers dedicated to building healthy communities that value responsibility, shopping locally, living small, and of course living car-free. Leave no carbon and only your footprints as you walk to the grocery store or stop by the community garden to pick fresh herbs and veggies for dinner.
“It will be unlike anything built in the United States in the past 150 years and unlike anything ever built in the Phoenix region because existing urban patterns have always been dominated by the accommodation of the automobile.” -Opticos Design
BENEFITS OF LIVING CAR-FREE
Owning a car in our culture holds a deeper meaning than just a way to get around. Cars represent wealth, independence, and freedom so some of you may be wondering why anyone would want to live without this mobile status symbol. Going car-free isn’t just good for your wallet, it’s a lifestyle that is good for your health and the environment. According to AAA, the average annual cost of owning a car is $9,282 and rising each year, increasing 5% from last year. (AAA) Big cities around the world that have implemented car-reduction policies, like London, have successfully reduced their high levels of air pollution, decreasing carbon emissions and the number of people who suffer from lung damage due to illegal levels of pollution in the air (WIRED). And of course, hopping on a bike or walking to your destination or public transit station is a great way to get exercise and time outside into your daily routine.
Transitioning to car-free living is no easy feat for city planners, developers, and sometimes residents; but once all the details are sorted, it’s a win-win for everyone. Culdesac and Opticos have shown what is possible when we think outside the box and hold a vision for creating healthy communities. We couldn’t agree more when Culdesac says “How you move defines how you live” on their website. Whether that's how you move your body or how you move through your community, everyone deserves to live in a healthy home environment! If you feel inspired by the Culdesac Tempe neighborhood or the car-free movement and want to learn more about wellness lifestyle communities, reach out to a wellness-focused agent to get connected with healthy home experts in your area!
By, Sydni Sands Holistic Health Coach & Writer