Shade at Desert Ridge was conceptualized as a “horizontal mixed-use community,” a desert-inspired enclave of mostly three-story walk-up flats and town-homes, plus one four-story elevator-served building. The 342-unit development's master planner and architect, Southern California-based TCA, designed the community with New Urbanism tendencies in mind. Think pedestrian-friendly streets, walkability, and connectivity.

Daniel Gehman, a principal at TCA, describes it as “urban sensibility in a suburban market.”

Urban elements come to suburbia in the 342-unit Shade at Desert Ridge.
Urban elements come to suburbia in the 342-unit Shade at Desert Ridge.

“We wanted to stretch the architecture that far,” Gehman describes, noting desginers wanted to be sensitive to the Phoenix development's desert environment. Unlike many mixed-used communities, Shade had enough room to spread out, which is why the retail component wasn't stacked below the residential units as in most mixed-use developments. “The neighborhood wasn't dense enough,” Gehman notes.

The walkability factor, he says, is a big plus in the Phoenix area. Shade was built on 18 open acres in North Phoenix, and density is 27 units to the acre.

The community is traversed by a walking path that gathers pedestrian flow throughout the site and delivers it to the adjacent retail center by way of a central recreation corridor. Retailers at Shade include Starbucks Coffee, Walgreens and other specialty stores and restaurants.

Shade was designed in a “desert deco” style that features both warm and cool earth tones in a residential resort setting. Its exteriors feature various hues of red, gold, and cacti-inspired colors. Gehman calls it “earth tones on steroids.” The project also features curved walls and glass blocks.

The project was developed by Geneva Holdings. The luxury apartment units range from 750 square feet to 1,510 square feet in more than 40 floor plans. with rents from $895 to $1,695. Construction began in April 2005, and the project is about 85 percent leased. The National Association of Home Builders recently honored Shade at Desert Ridge with the “Best Rental Apartment Community” award for a five-stories-or-less non-garden development.