When Austin’s airport moved to its current location at the old Bergstrom Air Force base, the Robert Mueller airport became 711 acres of land just east of Interstate 35 ripe for developing. The city of Austin, along with the Catellus Development group, have created a master plan that includes a variety of housing styles, private businesses and retail stores, and are attempting to make the entire “city within a city” as green as possible.
This area, now referred to as the Mueller development, has three housing types available in their first phase of building: yard houses, garden court houses, and row houses. The prices for the first phase range from the $180,000s to the $600,000s, and are 900 square feet up to 3,700 square feet in size. Though 350 homes will be built in the first phase, the development is planning to build 2,200 in total. Six different home builders were chosen to participate during phase one, including 3 locally based builders, Saldana Homes LLP, Streetman Homes Inc. and Muskin Co.
Though some of the homes may be a little cookie cutter in appearance, others are built in a traditional Austin bungalow style, and seem to fit in with their new central location. None of the new homes are built in the currently popular modern style, but it’s possible that different builders will be chosen for future phases of building, to diversify homes as much as possible. All homes built in the Mueller Development have alley ways behind them, with garages built on the backside of houses leaving the fronts garage-free, with more room for larges porches. This also makes the streets and sidewalks more pedestrian friendly.
The initial phase of homes created a large amount of interest, and Catellus Development set up a lottery-style system by hiring a company to randomly create a priority list of buyers. To keep in line with the development’s vision of a mixed income neighborhood, a certain number of homes were set aside for families making at or below 80 percent of Austin’s median income. All of the “affordable housing” homes were sold, and 265 total homes were purchased, with the remaining homes offered to the public.
Many of the businesses in the Mueller Development opened before any residents moved in. Some big box stores are already open, such as Best Buy and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but other private businesses are also moving in. Seton Family of Hospitals is building their 165,000 square foot headquarters in the development. Not only are they the second-largest private employer in central Texas, but this will also be the first headquarters of a large company to move east of interstate 35. Seton’s new facility, the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, will open next to the new headquarters in 2009.
One of the Mueller Development’s major objectives is to be as green as possible from the ground up. They will have shops, recreation, entertainment, jobs and transit close at hand, in hopes that driving will be kept to a minimum. Giant solar collectors are being built along the new hike and bike paths to provide shade in the daylight, and light up the paths in the evening. Austin Energy has also built a new power plant on site that not only supplies electricity to new residents, but also sends chilled water for air conditioning to nearby businesses. The power plant generates power in a cleaner fashion, while the shared HVAC system lowers energy costs.
The Mueller Development is the right spot for those looking for a newly built, centrally-located home, offered at a reasonable price.