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Country’s 1st car-free neighborhood coming to Tempe in 2020

(Opticos/Hugo Render)

PHOENIX – A real estate development company led by a pair of Valley natives is going all-in on the car-free lifestyle, with an innovative Tempe project as the epicenter.

Culdesac broke ground last week on what it’s billing as the first U.S. neighborhood to be built from scratch without any residential parking.

“Our goal is to give people a new option for how they can live without a private vehicle,” Jeff Berens, the San Francisco-based company’s economic development specialist and co-founder, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

The company chose the location on Apache Boulevard west of the Loop 101 Price Freeway because, in part, of its proximity to the Smith-Martin light rail station. Tempe’s growing population and thriving job market were also factors.

“We have found the Culdesac team to be true partners with our City Council and its neighborhood communities, and we look forward to bringing the country’s first car-free community to life in our city,” Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said in a press release.

The $140 million, 16-acre development is aiming to open in fall 2020 with 636 apartments and 24,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.

The parking-free design will allow for more green space than the typical development. Culdesac will also feature a variety of areas for the community’s 1,000 or so residents to socialize plus a grocery store, coffee shop and coworking space.

Although residents can’t bring their own vehicles into the complex, there will be visitor parking. And the neighborhood will have designated zones for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Berens and co-founder Ryan Johnson, Culdesac’s CEO, grew up in the Phoenix area and were roommates at the University of Arizona.

The company said it has raised $10 million in venture capital funding and is eyeing sites for additional, larger car-free developments, with Dallas, Denver and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, as potential locations.

“This is a welcoming community that we think can provide a new precedent for a different way to develop now that many transportation innovations are offering alternatives to owning a private car,” Berens said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report.

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