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Car-Free Community Inks Chain Eatery As It Eyes New Retail Tenants

Culdesac Tempe will become one of the nation's first 'car-free' apartment communities in 2021 and recently started securing its retail tenants.

Culdesac Tempe, one of the nation’s first car-free rental apartment communities, has selected a local, Arizona-based restaurant chain as its first tenant.

The fast-casual restaurant will not be named until the second quarter of this year, when other retailers are announced. It is slated for the 2.6K SF location on the north side of the property. The restaurant helps anchor 24K SF of retail amenities designed in a courtyard setting with outdoor living rooms.

Located at the Smith-Martin/Apache Boulevard light rail stop, the car-free community does not offer residential parking, opting instead for several designated ride-share pickup locations. Culdesac Tempe will offer over 150 parking spaces for retail visitors.

For residents who want to purchase their food instead of dining out, a boutique grocery store of 4.4K SF and a market hall of 3.5K SF will be located directly across from the restaurant.

Culdesac Tempe at dusk on the courtyard.

“Because of the novelty of the carless design, this is one of the most exciting real estate projects in the country, and the retail component is very important,” Culdesac Tempe General Manager Lavanya Sunder said. “We weighed a variety of retail options and this is more of an interview process to identify the correct mix of on-site retailers, rather than finding traditional retail tenants.”

A 2K SF general retail area will be located across from the market hall and will feature a wine bar, a hair salon and a nail salon. A 1K SF café is being developed adjacent to a 5K SF coworking space.

“We are making every attempt to work with local operators and retailers. We like to think of our retailers as representing the best of the best in the Phoenix metropolitan area,” Sunder said. “We want to be a destination in the Phoenix market, so our retail resources will matter.”

To help identify the proper combination of retail tenants, Culdesac hosted focus groups composed of Phoenix residents without cars, and is working with Lorenzo Perez of Venue Projects, a design firm that creates mixed-use developments in residential areas.

“I have been surprised by how much retailers are ready to embrace a car-free community here in Arizona,” Sunder said. “Plenty of people in Phoenix are living car-free and our retailers will understand that lifestyle, as our location right off the light rail will be a key driver to our retailers’ success.”