Guest Editorial: Get Ready For More ‘Car-less’ Apartments and Other Outside The Box Development Plans

By Recker McDowell —

A planned $140 million development in Tempe is being touted as a first in the U.S. for a ‘car-less’ apartment complex.

The Culdesac Tempe apartments are being proposed without parking. The complex is on the Metro light rail and the San Francisco developer building it plans on offering discounts on Uber and Lyft rides and transit.

The idea of no parking and no cars designed for a place like sprawling metro Phoenix is drawing national attention for the ‘Culdesac’.

But don’t expect the ‘car-less’ concept to be a flash in the pan. Cities across the country are looking at creative ways to make their communities and neighborhoods more walkable and transit oriented.

That means more density so residents can be near transit or can walk or bike to nearby retail, grocery stores and restaurants.

Cities including Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa are figuring out the future paths when it comes density, walkability, parking and how ‘urban’ they want their downtowns to be.

Many cities see the obvious need for parking as redevelopment projects propose new concepts and in some cases more density. Scottsdale, Chandler and Gilbert, for example, are all looking at how to approach parking as new projects and offerings come to their downtowns.

Other cities across the country are looking at how to bring in more residents, deal with the need for ‘workforce’ and less expensive housing options and meld that into their downtowns and transit systems.

Tempe is in that camp. Tempe has a strong cadre of progressive City Council members who want more density, residents and workforce housing in the downtown area. But those councilors are not opposed to growth or new projects. They are willing to look at creative projects and new ideas when it comes to parking and cars. If cities want density and to be more pedestrian focused, they are going to have meld those desires with parking and how they view land use and redeveloping existing properties.

The car-less Culdesac certainly makes Tempe look forward thinking and progressive nationally. That will help the East Valley city with urban and transit minded employers, professionals and others looking at where to land their jobs, careers and lives.

Other cities, including Scottsdale, will also need to be ready for new types of development, parking and density plans. Not every project works for every city, but planners, developers and elected officials all need to be open-minded and aware that the world, consumer tastes and business models are changing.

That includes how and where people live and how they are connected to their jobs and communities.

Cities that live too much in the past or are closed minded to new ideas including with density, land-uses and parking run the risk of not looking forward thinking and getting left behind as marketplaces and preferences change.