Walking in Phoenix

Walking in Phoenix


Culdesac Tempe is poised to become a walking oasis in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Cars are a staple of the concrete, or rather stucco, jungle that Phoenix is purported to be. Before the pandemic struck, a real estate developer bet $170 million on a car-free neighborhood complex with its own retailers. People living there will have to rely on public transit. As a combination of urban life and developed community, Culdesac aims to attract people who want to remain connected to city life while enjoying a car-free environment in their neighborhood. The viability of the project rests on the number of residents – young professionals and empty nesters – it can attract.


Video Spotlights: Design of a No Car, No Road Neighborhood

                                 Life in Car-Free Cities

This post is based on The New York Times article, The Capital of Sprawl Gets a Radically Car-Free Neighborhood, by C. Dougherty, October 31, 2020, and the YouTube videos, No Car, No Road Neighborhood, by Sam Bur, October 22, 2018, and Carfree Cities: The Gritty Details, by CarfreeCities, February 7, 2012. Image source: BCFC / Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How can Culdesac Tempe benefit from the pandemic?

Guidance: The pandemic may make Culdesac Tempe more attractive to prospective residents. More people work from home and no longer have to go to their employers’ downtown offices. Less expensive residential areas away from the city are therefore more appealing, especially when they offer walking areas and other desirable amenities. Moreover, the pandemic has isolated people socially. Life in a neighborhood with a “community feel” has suddenly become a selling point in real estate. Finally, with gyms and other indoor sports facilities currently closed, walking offers people the opportunity to exercise while enjoying the outdoors.

2. The key performance indicators of a project are time, cost, and quality. In your opinion, what are the factors threatening the performance of the Culdesac Tempe project?

Guidance: In terms of time, the pandemic has already slowed down construction, and this situation is likely to continue during the spring of 2021. Even if the virus spread is significantly contained in 2021, a high demand for construction workers may place constraints on finishing the project on time. Construction delays translate into higher costs: overhead costs (insurance, equipment, administrators), financing costs, material price increases, and overtime pay. As for quality, a rush to expedite the project could lead to quality problems, and from a service standpoint, delays could trigger negative perceptions about the complex and dampen its marketability. The article does not mention whether the retail space has already been purchased. Unless there are enough residents and potential for growth, retailers will not commit to setting up operations in the neighborhood. In turn, the lack of retail presence may dissuade potential apartment buyers/tenants from considering Culdesac as their future neighborhood. Finally, many people still need or want a car, which will limit the number of potential tenants.

3. Describe the qualifications that the project manager and the members of the project team should have for the Culdesac Tempe project.

Guidance: The project manager(s) should have the financial, technical, and interpersonal skills necessary to lead a relatively complex project and manage multiple relationships with the project team, the project sponsors, and all other stakeholders of the project. They will have to plan accurately, stay focused on the big picture, keep everyone informed, ensure that resources are available when needed, manage conflicts, and prepare for and adapt to changes in circumstances. The composition of the project team will vary over time as it harnesses expertise from many groups: engineers, architects, multiple construction specialists and contractors, landscapers, commercial lease specialists, etc. Besides having the required expertise in their respective specialty areas, permanent members of the project team will have to be constructive problem solvers and have a positive attitude to build consensus rather than impose their own opinions.


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