Civano - Tucson's New Urbanist Suburb
Civano, 15 miles southeast of downtown Tucson, was once envisioned as a 1,200-acre development with four suburbs, a town center, an environmental technology business park, 2,700 residences, and approximately one million square feet of commercial and light industrial land. It is now characterized by its first, stunning New Urbanist suburb and scaled-down town center. Civano has been dubbed "the largest high-performance, mixed-use development in the United States" and was voted "Best New City" by Sunset magazine in 2004 despite not being built out on the larger scale as anticipated.
The city has evolved from the Tucson Solar Village to Civano: A Model Sustainable Community to the Community of Civano, which celebrated its grand opening in 1999 after nearly two decades of planning.
Whether it was the City of Tucson's financial contribution, the Federal National Mortgage Association's (Fannie Mae) ultimate sole control, or the place-based politics of a passionate residency, the master-planned community was contentious during its construction. Today, the city of 650 resource-efficient houses, an architecturally landmark mixed-use community hub, lush desert landscaping, and the country's "greenest" school continues to flourish, achieving its objective of acting as a sustainable growth pilot project while beating targets for reduced energy and potable water consumption.
Civano continues to be the most distinctive example of sustainable growth and New Urbanism in the city. Civano has a spectacular sense of place—an alignment with the natural Sonoran desert landscape that is more than the sum of its varied architecture, network of trails and public parks, and extensive native landscaping—despite its suburban area, lack of transportation, and struggles to introduce competitive retail into the community hub.
Civano is a neighborhood in SE Tucson that was imagined as "Tucson's Solar Community" at the turn of the century as a blueprint for a prosperous community.
Civano first opened its doors on April 16, 1999. The one-acre community center with a landscaped courtyard, designed with a combination of renewable construction materials and solar energy and water management systems, is at the heart of the community.
A community hall, tennis court, two swimming pools, a shaded playground for kids, a community garden, an expansive nursery, and over 50 small businesses, including a dance studio, optometrist, naturopathic dentist, hair salon, fitness studio, cafe, and more, are all located in the area.
Athletic styles can enjoy the miles of connected sidewalks, which have some off-the-beaten-path gravel tracks. Directly across the street is Fantasy Island, a mountain biker's paradise.
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