Culdesac Tempe first carless neighborhood

Culdesac Tempe – America’s First Carless Neighborhood isn’t that great….yet.

by Andrew N

I recently had the chance to stay at Culdesac Tempe, which proudly holds the title of the first carless neighborhood in the United States. Bringing this innovative concept to fruition wasn’t without its challenges—they had to jump through legal hoops and obtain special permits to kickstart the project. Despite its promising beginnings, Culdesac Tempe still has room to grow before it can truly showcase the potential of car-free neighborhoods as the way forward.

In this review, I will tell you what I loved and hated about my experience staying at an Airbnb in Culdesac Tempe.

Culdesac Tempe greece inspired design

What I loved about Culdesac Tempe

  • No asphalt helps maintain lower temperatures compared to the surrounding area
  • Vibrant colors and unique design
  • Access to public transportation
  • Partnership with Waymo self-driving cars
  • Residents are not allowed to own cars
  • Large gym
  • Friendly staff
  • Cocina Chiwas is a delicious restaurant

I was lucky enough to attend a media event for the launch of Lectric’s One e-bike, and Culdesac kindly offered me a free one-night stay at their Airbnb. It got me thinking about car-free neighborhoods and how they could really take off in the future, especially with the rise of personal electric vehicles.

The overall design of the apartments is charming and their color scheme is welcoming. The design draws inspiration from the picturesque neighborhoods of Greece, where the harmonious blend of pristine white walls and vibrant hues creates visually captivating streetscapes.

The property has zero asphalt and is sometimes 30 degrees less than the surrounding Phoenix metro area. Culdesac uses cement, bricks, or packed clay and gravel in their design. I did notice a temperature difference and had never previously realized how much black asphalt soaks up the sun and increases temperatures.

Culdesac Tempe gravel and clay paths with no asphalt

The property is located across the street from a light rail stop, which is nice since owners sign in their lease agreement that they will not own a car. They also have a partnership with Waymo to offer discounted rides with their self-driving cars.

There is a large gym in the center of Culdesac Tempe, which also houses meeting rooms for those who work from home. The only restaurant currently on the property, Cocina Chiwas, offers delicious Mexican food and shares the same owner as the viral restaurant Tacos Chiwas.

The staff is extremely friendly at Culdesac Tempe and I can see it being a great place to live, but at the current moment, there are significant drawbacks to living there that I will speak of more in the next section.

Culdesac Tempe colorful walls

What I hate about Culdesac Tempe

  • Only Phase 1 is complete and Phase 2 will not be complete until 2025
  • No swimming pool
  • Limited store options
  • The surrounding area is not walkable
  • Airbnb units do not showcase the unique design of Culdesac Tempe
  • Cocina Chiwas is the only restaurant and it is expensive
  • The corner market was not open when we were visiting
  • Events in the main areas play loud music late into the night
  • Can get muddy in rainstorms
  • Lots of construction as they work on Phase 2

Currently, Culdesac is in its first phase and only has 180 units available to rent across its 17 acres. They plan to have over 700 units but Phase 2 will not be complete until 2025. Right now, the area is not very walkable and it is pretty small.

Our website editor, Nathan, stayed at Culdesac a few months ago and had to ride his Wolf Warrior scooter 10 minutes away to get diapers for his sister’s baby. When I was there a month ago, the Corner Market wasn’t open and you couldn’t buy any food or snacks without leaving the Culdesac area.

Cocina Chiwas is currently the only food option available, and while delicious, it is expensive. The corner market should have been open when the community was created and there should be more food options for residents to walk to especially since they can’t own a car.

Culdesac Tempe main area with no cars

The other issue is there aren’t restaurants that are walkable nearby outside of the community. The closest places are a 10-minute drive away or a 60-minute walk. A 60-minute walk in the heat of the desert sun in Arizona is not a pleasant experience. There is also not a pool currently in the community to help you cool off.

The initial design should have prioritized amenities such as a pool, affordable dining options, and access to groceries to create an irresistible appeal for residents. While plans for a pool and a corner market are in the pipeline, and more restaurants are anticipated, the current situation leaves much to be desired, as the community finds itself resembling a food desert in the heart of the desert—unless you’re prepared to shell out for expensive tacos every day.

Culdesac Tempe at night with ebikes

Residents will be plagued with loud noises day and night. The ongoing construction using drills, hammers, and airguns rings through the day, and at night when they have events, loud music is played into the late hours. I can see residents sensitive to sound or with young children would eventually not renew due to the sheer amount of noise.

I appreciate the effort to keep temperatures down in Culdesac, but the use of packed clay and gravel could pose a problem during rainstorms. Mud and dirt would inevitably be tracked into households without any way to prevent it. Fortunately, Tempe doesn’t experience frequent rainfall, but when it does occur, it could turn into a nightmare for residents trying to maintain clean homes.

Culdesac Tempe common area that is carless and a ebike paradise

My last issue with Culdesac Tempe is that their Airbnb location to showcase the design is actually located in the worst possible area. It is located along the street with cars and the building itself does not showcase the positives that can come from a carless neighborhood. If I hadn’t taken a tour of where the permanent residents live, I would have never realized how cool of a design Culdesac is.

Final Thoughts on Culdesac Tempe

I love the idea of car-less neighborhoods in America. Culdesac Tempe has huge potential but at the current moment, my stay was a little underwhelming. I would like to see how far they have progressed in 2025 and observe what improvements have been made. Currently, Culdesac is working on building another community in Atlanta, Georgia but I think they should be focused on making their Tempe location the best it can be.

I understand the need to grow into different states, but if Culdesac Tempe fails, carless neighborhoods might be a thing of the past.

Culdesac Tempe new construction

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We are Andrew and Jimmy, two guys who love personal electric vehicles, and we hope to share our experiences and reviews to help you find the best next PEV for your needs.

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