Civano Real Estate
The Community of Civano, located in the southeast part of Tucson, is, according to its planners, "an antidote to urban sprawl's five banes: loss of community, loss of open space, traffic congestion, air pollution, and poor use of resources." It is a community "with choices about how you want to live."
Civano's planning integrates residential communities with shopping, workplace, school, and civic facilities essential to the daily life of the residents, as well as parks and natural open spaces vital for relaxation, enjoyment, and preservation of the area's natural landscape and heritage. Passive and active solar principles, sustainable building materials, and water conservation technologies are key elements across Civano. Every neighborhood will have gathering places such as coffee shops and small commercial enterprises. Most of these are within walking distance of each other, conserving resources and minimizing waste.
In 1981, Arizona's then Governor Bruce Babbit participated in a showcase of locally-built solar-powered homes. His comment to the builders, "This is great, what are you going to do next?" sparked a discussion that resulted in a vision for a new community that significantly reduces resource consumption and adverse environmental impacts compared with standard subdivisions. A decade later, the Arizona Solar Village Corporation was formed to sculpt that vision into what was originally called the Tucson Solar Village, known today as the community of Civano. "Civano" was the golden era of the Classical Phase of native Hohokam civilization, an era that balanced natural resources with human needs.
The State Land Department committed 818 acres of undeveloped desert on the southeast side of Tucson to the project. In 1991, the City of Tucson approved rezoning of the land to be developed into the master-planned community. The rezoning stipulated aggressive resource conservation goals and performance requirements for the purchaser and developer. The Tucson City Council adopted an Integrated Method of Performance and Cost Tracking (IMPACT) System for Sustainable Development in early October 1995, clarifying the performance requirements.
After several planning and marketing studies, the city sought out a master developer who would be interested in, and capable of, such an ambitious project. A joint venture called The Community of Civano presented the only bid of $2.7 million to purchase the land at an auction in July 1996. The city also agreed to support Civano with $3 million in infrastructure funding for water, sewer, and roads. The city's seed money was leveraged by a commitment of an additional $20 million by private funders, through the developer, for energy designs.
Since 1996, the developer (originally David Case and Kevin Kelly) has worked with 27 consultants and universities to design a livable community for the 21 st Century. Civano's town plan evolved through a series of energetic and intense design charettes that drew upon community members just as it drew upon esteemed New Urbanists Andres Duany, Stefanos Polyzoides, and William McDonough. The actual cost to develop Civano, with its innovative energy and resource conservation technologies, is $20 million more than for a similarly sized, conventional master-planned community.
Kevin Kelly, former president of Civano Development Company, notes that "The issues are many and complex. How do we create a sense of place where neighbors know one another? How do we tread lighter on the land and use our natural resources wisely? How do we begin to mitigate the land use patterns and zoning practices that brought us urban sprawl."
His answer is Civano, "the first large-scale development in America which begins to address these challenges."
"The ideas for Civano," he continues, "have been germinating in our city for more than fifteen years. The planning process for this project has been extensive and encouraging. Civano is a fundamentally new approach to community planning. The goals are to connect people to each other, and to their environment, instead of simply maximizing short-term profits by increasing building lot counts. All 'sustainable' planning principles require an analysis that incorporates the social, environmental, and economic impact of a development.
"The result is a community that is pedestrian-friendly, with tree-lined walkways and gathering places, such as caf?s, parks, and public plazas. Homes in Civano will use less potable water and offer the homebuyer active and passive solar choices. The nursery has salvaged 50 desert trees and plants for every acre developed. The builders will introduce consumers to environmentally healthier building products. The project has the latest fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure and structured wiring in homes. Most importantly, Civano's plan requires adherence to a strict energy and building code that will result in enough energy savings to prevent one billion pounds of carbon emissions from entering our atmosphere over the next two decades."
Kelly concludes that "Civano is a combination of sound planning, good science, and artful imagination." And as one resident added, "The developer has stretched the canvas and now it's up to the residents and shopkeepers to apply the brush strokes."