Building a village designed for people (not cars) near Phoenix

Just outside sprawling Phoenix, developers have what they call “the first car- neighborhood built from scratch in the ”. Modeled after European villages, sits next to a light rail stop and has its own grocery store, restaurant, coffee shop, 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 , but it also is aiming at “” to provide relief from the local . There are no sidewalks (using instead pavers and decomposed granite), white paint to reflect the sun and 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.

On *faircompanies


  1. It’s a lovely version of a 15 minute city. “You will own nothing and be happy.” If that’s okay with you, you will love the future. I want land, I want autonomy.

  2. Candle making studio your living room! Um…….. shouldn’t that be in a non residential area? Kind of dangerous if you’ve been in a candle making factory.

  3. There’s no way this isn’t an expensive place to live, but that’s not a knock on this development at all. It’s going to be expensive because this is the kind of place people want to live. This concept should be a model for building all over the country. Well done.

  4. This is how the southern Europe has been living for centuries.. It is funny when U.S. does it it is like “wow how did they think of it?” Life is so much warmer, easy going and humanely constructed in Mediterreanean life style. We don’t take ant-depressants we talk to friends, family and neighbours. We help our neighbours, share things. Individualism is a disease that capitalism forced upon human beings.

  5. If Erin Boyd does continue on with building more spaces like this, I really hope that accessibility for people who are disabled goes into it. Because while this looks really interesting, where would the people who use wheelchairs go? They can’t all live on the first floor. And even then, there’s people with legs that, while they can still walk, it’s better for a short amount of time. Do we expect them to take three flights of stairs? It can be very easy for someone’s knee or hip to give out and take a fall down the stairs.

    Whenever you’re building a community, please talk with people who know disability friendly architecture. Let’s be kind and live with our friends and family together and don’t exclude them in these conversations. Listen to their voices. Don’t let suddenly loosing your ability to walk be the reason why you realize you can’t go anywhere or do anything due to the hostile infrastructure.

  6. You couldn’t pay me to live in a place like this. I’ve lived in Spain, Holland and Italy. It was nice to visit but living there was a major pain in the ass when it came to convenience. And this is no different. It’s only saving grace is what it tries to hide… that it’s not far removed from the rest of Tempe, which is designed for car transportation. Like cities should be designed. I live in Gilbert, just southeast of Culdesac. A place that is amazing to live in. Where I’m basically 20 minutes from anything I want to do with the convenience of hopping in my car (from my garage) within seconds. And if you don’t understand how great that is, you’ve never lived in 115 degree heat.

  7. The YouTube channel “Not Just Bikes” explains the history of why the U.S. and Europe became car-centric. He also shows how parts of European cities looked before they reduced automotive use and increased the types of transporting people that best suits them and the environment. He prefers trains. He doesn’t own a car.

    “Bicycle Dutch” is all bicycle and also shows before and after riding infrastructure. He films entire rides so that you get the idea what riding can be like. We are SO far behind.

  8. Yes, cities should be walkable and convenient to get around for pedestrians. So why are you filming this video not walking, but instead on a pesky ebike? FYI, Ebikes have now become the bane of every pedestrian’s existence! If you want to put out the important message that cities should be walkable, then for gosh sakes, get off an ebike and walk!

  9. I know its not aesthetically desirable but solar on the roofs to supplement electric and water catchment systems to water the green spaces, could make the outrageous minimum 1,600. a month price tag a bit more tolerable. Also, small grocery stores tend to be more expensive. This seems to be made for young professionals or wealthy college students. Nice idea if could be focused on everyone else also.

  10. Excellent episode. You asked several important questions such as how much rent is like there. What is it like to live there. How the residents interact with each other. I love the concept and design of the Culdesac. (In French, it means “cul de sac” which means dead-end street, however, in this example, in a good way.) The colors are vibrant, yet gentle. The intentional “lack” of asphalt and concrete on the ground helps with climate control in there. The way the “pods” are laid out does not overwhelm residents when walking around. Not hearing cars and trucks drive around within the “village” is good for mental health, as constant traffic noise is a big stressor. This does not feel like a cold, isolating, and “self-centred” attitude villiage.

    There are three things I would change if I developed something similar:

    1-not be made of wood frame. I would build out of either a combination of masonry blocks with bricks or masonry blocks with natural materials to look like what is shown in this episode. Though concrete may be used, it uses too much energy to use. Wood frame construction is a fire hazard. Example: how does a fire truck reach the burning structure?

    2-I would add accessible units for disabled and elderly. The lack of elevators does make it hard for those who are not permanently disabled, and for those who have mobility issues. I can walk, but due to arthritis, stairs are a barrier. On the other hand, being a “walkable” village is good for daily exercise and meeting neighbors. This is good for well-being of people.

    3-Affordability. I believe that 1/3 of the village should be rent-geared-to income (30% of gross income) and not to segregate the low income residents from everyone else. (no “poor door” system allowed).

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