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mueller AUSTIN, TEXAS

a 2019 case study by: JOHN HALVERSON JOSIAH LINDQUIST


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background After the closure of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport on the east side of Austin, Texas, in 1999, the 700-acre site was redeveloped into a planned community featuring a variety of housing typologies, a mix of commercial properties, and a network of green spaces. In the years prior, the surrounding neighborhoods were characterized by their isolation from downtown Austin, a product of their proximity to the Airport and I-35. Local residents advocated for a relocation of the airport and expressed their vision for the mixed-use and mixed-income community. The first cohort of residents arrived in 2007, and the final phase, to be completed in 2020, is anticipated to complete a community that will be home to 15,000 residents in 6,200 housing units and 4.3 million square feet of commercial space. 20% of the development (140 acres) is dedicated as open green space, park, and 13 miles of bike trail. The neighborhood has recycled runway materials into street construction and uses recycled building materials from former hangars and historic buildings in public spaces. The unique nature of this space has given the city an opportunity to test out and learn from new development ideas in their efforts to implement the vision for revitalizing the old airport site. 2

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background

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context & financing

changes & improvements

Changes & Improvements Community Organization Mobility, Commutes & Walking Patterns Household Income, Satisfaction & Turnover

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conclusion & analysis

guiding tenants

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current conditions

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maps & photos Figure-Ground

Geographic Context Illustrative Phasing Transit & Open Space Housing Types

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graphs & charts Age by Sex Median Icome Unit Distribution Race


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context & financing Mueller is a “new-urbanist� and smart-growth project which seeks to minimize automobile dependency and build a neighborhood at the pedestrian scale. The neighborhood has traditiona detached single-family as well as multifamily, attached, row, and courtyard homes. Residents have the option to buy or rent, and the development requires that at least 25% of all housing units are priced at or below 80% of Austin median family income (MFI) for ownership units and no more than 60% of MFI for rental units. The Plan seek to maintain affordability by using a soft second lien, allowing residents to purchase their homes for resale. The development plan claims to include transit-oriented development, with the initial plans including a stretch in the center of the neighborhood for a potential transit corridor. Dedicated bike paths and walkways have been positioned along primary streets to help reduce dependence on automobiles.

financing A development agreement was reached between the city of Austin and Catellus, the master developer, for public improvements, and the infrastructure costs were primarily funded by revenue from phasing the sale of land parcels to private developers. Early phases relied on anchor uses in the regional retail area and Dell Childrens’ Hospital to finance later development. The city also subsidizes property ownership for the site developer until a construction deal has been contracted. The city of Austin has also provided public revenue bonds and tax-increment financing (TIF) for the rest of the infrastructure.

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guiding tenants & goals fiscal responsibility

The redevelopment must create a revenue stream that will substantially fund onsite infrastructure and increase the City's tax base for the benefit of all citizens.

economic development

The redevelopment will reinforce Austin's role in an increasingly global marketplace and create a wide range of employment opportunities for the community's citizens.

east austin revitalization

Tee redevelopment must promote economic development opportunities within East Austin, giving local residents a direct stake in redevelopment.

compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods

Development must maintain and enhance the quality of life in adjacent neighborhoods, providing complementary linkages, land uses and transportation patterns.

diversity

Mueller will offer a wide range of housing choices in order to create a new community of ethnically and economically diverse residents.

sustainability

Development has been planned in a way that promotes energy efficiency, reduced auto dependency, watershed protection and green space preservation.

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"

I think the developer and builders promote a lifestyle that suits some people – a healthy, walkable, community-oriented life awaits." -Scott Brodrick

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current conditions changes & improvements The neighborhood has continued to grow

lower-income families, and a string of low-in-

as planned. With sustainability as a core

come row houses are set to be built.

tenant, Mueller has made several improve-

In terms of retail,

ments to its energy supply and conservation. In partnering with Austin Energy for an on-site power plant, they have been able to share HVAC infrastructure, lower their energy costs, and generate cleaner electricity that improves air quality. Additionally, in cooperation with Pecan Street Inc., a research group has enrolled 250

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“I love the vibe of this neighborhood. There’s so much vitality and potential for more here. -Noelle Boyle

homes into a smart grid to track energy usage. A trend has continued in the addi-

Aldrich Street, in particular, has attracted a

tion of solar power technologies in both

concentration of new restaurants and retail. It

residential and commercial units. They

is located in the Town Center District, a mixed-

found that 69% of Mueller’s homes elec-

use lifestyle district that will feature a mix of

tricity for the entire year had been gener-

retail, dining, cultural and entertainment op-

ated by solar.

tions as well as workplaces, apartments, and condominiums.

Residential units continue to be added as anticipated in the master plan, including those for SMART Housing qualified residents. In 2018, three multifamily residenc-

This development originated from the idea of

es were built totaling 760 units (Aldrich

local residents and seems to have had steady

51, Amly on Aldrich, and Overature at

community participation in planning and

Mueller), 300 homes began construction

implementation. The development company

in the southwest neighborhood, Founda-

convenes public forums to gain input on

tion Communities broke ground on “The Jordan” which is a 132-unit complex for 10

community organization


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key elements of the plan that are in de-

Interestingly, Mueller adopted a pilot pro-

velopment, including the town center and

gram in 2018 known as the “Electric Last Mile

market district. In addition, a standing

Project” which connects residents via a small

committee of local residents regularly as-

enclosed electric cab from anywhere in the

sesses the development’s impact on trans-

neighborhood to the commercial, retail, or

portation, and the city-appointed Plan

bus stop locations. The last mile is a major

Implementation Advisory Commission ad-

issue in American mass transit that Mueller’s

vises the city council on issues related to

development is seeking to mitigate, though

the redevelopment.

at this point in time, it is nowhere near full efficiency.

mobility, commutes & walking patterns

household income, satisfaction & turnover Mueller now was more than 15,000 housed

Denser development and designated bike/

in 5,100 single-family, condo, and apartment

pedestrian routes have allowed residents

homes. Seventy percent of households do

moving to Mueller to significantly reduce

not have children, forty-three percent are

driving time, on average increasing walk-

married, and forty-one percent are single.

ing and biking habits by forty percent. In

The median household income is $60,000

addition, researchers found that many of

per year and the median age is 31. One-bed-

those previously inactive in their former

room units cost between $1,800 and $2,250.

residences, often unfavorable to walking

Two-bedroom apartments rent for between

increased physical activity and improved

$2,560 and $3,200. Three-bedroom rent-

health.

als cost about $3,300 a month. The average listing price for a single-family home

There are several buses on the outside of

in the Mueller neighborhood was between

the neighborhood (Cap Metro #20 and

$440,000 and $450,000, higher than the av-

#37) which make a trip downtown in 20-

erage listing price of $430,000 for the city as

30 minutes or to the University of Texas

a whole. Homes range from $280,000 for a

campus in 10. Planned with mass transit

1,500-square-foot house with 2 bedrooms

in mind, Mueller could be conducive to a

and 21/2 bathrooms to just under $1 million

rail line down the central corridor, though

for a 3-bedroom, 41/2 bathroom home with

as of now, public transit is a possibility giv-

more than 3,600 square feet.

en residents are prepared to walk to the edge of the development.

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map 1. figure-ground Development as of Novermber, 2019

2000 ft 13


map 2. austin city context

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Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004


map 3. illustrative Final phase buildout as of November 2017

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map 4. phasing plans Original phasing plan from 2004

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Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004


map 5. & 6. transit & open space Final phase buildout as of November 2017

Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004

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map 7. neighborhoods Final phase buildout as of November 2017

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Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004


map 8. yard house

Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004

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Yard Houses

Map by: McCann Adams Studio 2004

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map 9. garden courts

Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004

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Garden Court Houses

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Garden Court Houses


map 10. garden house

Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004

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map 11. courtyard row house

Courtyard Row House

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Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004


map 12. clustered rowhouses

Clustered Row House Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004

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map 13. mueller house

Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004

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Mueller House

Mueller House 27


map 14. multifamily housing

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Maps by: McCann Adams Studio 2004


Multi-family Housing

Multi-family Housing

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demographic charts

AGE BY SEX, MUELLER 85 Years and Over 75 to 84 Years 65 to 74 Years 55 to 64 Years 45 to 54 Years 35 to 44 Years 25 to 34 Years 18 to 24 Years 15 to 17 Years 10 to 14 Years 5 to 9 Years Under 5 Years -15.0%

-10.0%

-5.0%

0.0%

Female:

5.0%

10.0%

15.0%

Male:

AGE BY SEX, AUSTIN 85 Years+ 75 to 84 Years 65 to 74 Years 55 to 64 Years 45 to 54 Years 35 to 44 Years 25 to 34 Years 18 to 24 Years 15 to 17 Years 10 to 14 Years 5 to 9 Years Under 5 Years -10.0%-8.0% -6.0% -4.0% -2.0% 0.0% 2.0% 4.0% 6.0% 8.0% 10.0% Female:

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Male:


HOUSEHOLD INCOME 20.0% 18.0% 16.0% 14.0% 12.0% 10.0% 8.0% 6.0% 4.0%

Austin-Round Rock, Texas

$200,000 or More

$150,000 to $199,999

$125,000 to $149,999

$100,000 to $124,999

$75,000 to $99,999

$60,000 to $74,999

$50,000 to $59,999

$45,000 to $49,999

$40,000 to $44,999

$35,000 to $39,999

$30,000 to $34,999

$25,000 to $29,999

$20,000 to $24,999

Less than $10,000

$10,000 to $14,999

0.0%

$15,000 to $19,999

2.0%

Census Tract 3.06, Travis County, Texas

UNITS IN STRUCTURE, MUELLER 0.0%

UNITS IN STRUCTURE, AUSTIN

29.5%

5.0% 0.1%

34.7%

7.7%

6.1%

8.1%

4.2%

59.6%

15.0%

9.5%

3.0%

5.2%

2.7% 3.5%

0.0% 3.9% 2.3%

1, Detached

1, Attached

2

3 or 4

10 to 19

20 to 49

50 or More

Mobile Home

1, Detached

1, Attached

2

3 or 4

5 to 9

10 to 19

20 to 49

50 or More

Mobile Home

Boat, Rv, Van, Etc.

5 to 9

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RACE, MUELLER Some Other Race Alone 3.2%

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone, 0.0%

Two or More Races, 2.0%

Asian Alone, 8.8% American Indian and Alaska Native Alone, 0.0%

Black or African American Alone, 10.7%

White Alone 75.3%

RACE, AUSTIN Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone , 0.1%

Some Other Race Alone 5.8% 3.3% Two or More Races ,

Asian Alone , 5.5%

American Indian and Alaska Native Alone, 0.4%

Black or African American Alone, 7.3%

White Alone, 77.7%

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conclusion & analysis

besides creating buffers in splitting the

Street Network & Connectivity

alike, providing a street-level vitality un-

streets. The ‘town center’ converging at Aldrich Street and Simond Avenue is incredibly well utilized by children and families

Upon both reviewing and visiting the site,

matched by most residential areas in the

we are left with mixed feelings about

city, similar only to that of heavy foot traffic

both the current state of the develop-

areas like downtown and the University of

ment and how we assume it will exist

Texas campus.

after final-phase completion. In contrast to conventional suburban development patterns common in US cities,

Housing, Interaction, & Usage

However, outside of a few key neighbor-

Austin being no exception, we feel that

hoods, namely retail districts, this new

the planned-development adheres to

urbanist model seems to have shortcom-

several crucial principles for sustain-

ings in its ability to bring people out to the

able, resilient development and resident

streets and interact with their neighbors as

safety. We feel that the street network

intended. The housing does have varying

connectivity, specifically the abundance

styles, though its impossible to avoid the

of designated bike lanes and minimi-

fact that the homes were built in a narrow

zation of curb cuts provides safety for

span of time, making it impossible to pro-

pedestrians that traditional subdistricts

vide a truly diverse range of housing that

lack. This further enhances the experi-

planners like Jane Jacobs advocated for.

ence of children who wish to play within

The variety of housing typology and strict

the neighborhood, as they have safer

standards limiting side yard widths and

access to parks, their neighbors and are

frontage lengths is a crucial and laudable

overall more protected when cycling or

step to creating street-level vitality, how-

skating on the streets.

ever, in Mueller, the car is still king. Alleys

Public & Natural Amenities

are still wide enough to fit two two-three cars abreast and the street friction is either

Additionally, the neighborhood boasts

non-existent or not enough to keep vehicles

several natural amenities, some stron-

from treating the streets as intended.

ger than others. For instance, the perimeter bicycle routes and lake-area parks are well used, though, during site visits,

Transit & Mobility

Transit has been slow to integrate into the

we noticed that “green space” provid-

fabric of the city, leaving most of the tran-

ed in and around residential units was

sit stops on the peripheries of the devel-

underutilized, and served little purpose

opment, creating a last-mile problem so 33


difficult to solve that they implemented an

to conventional urban development, though

on-call e-car to transport residents in and

given that the city had such a unique oppor-

around the neighborhood. We feel this could

tunity, a large piece of land, with diverse nat-

be solved with denser development and a

ural features, and incredibly close in proxim-

greater abundance of amenities dispersed

ity to the city center, this development could

throughout the community, rather than con-

have provided much more dense housing,

centrated amongst large corporate labels

urban design consistant with the notion and

on the outer edge amidst a sea of surface

realization that Austin will need to absorb a

parking.

growing population, and perhaps have pro-

Shopping, Retail, & Pedestrians

the city, both in terms of transit, but also cre-

The commercial district, though some may

ating a location which blends into the unique

say provided necessary revenue and ameni-

culture of east and downtown Austin. There

ties to the community, is primarily comprised

was incredible potential for this site though,

of big-box retail, a development pattern

after our analysis, we feel it underdelivered,

that contemporary planning is attempting

and does not provide a model of develop-

to distance itself from. In that, this develop-

ment for similar communities and locations

ment seems to be a step behind, providing

moving forward.

a commercial retail model from previous decades, not complying with the paradigm shift in modern-day planning and successful master-planned developments. The mixeduse, ground floor retail/upper-level residential apartment model is a crucial step to creating the environment that all contemporary new communities should have, but it is isolated to only a few spaces, and access to something as simple as a supermarket or bodega is still not possible without a car in most situations. There is a well-connected pedestrian network, but urban designers and planners cannot expect residents to walk more than ½ mile to access fresh food. Summary

In summary, we feel that this development can be considered a success in comparison 34

vided a better way to link the development to


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"

The people in the park over there with the dog, the guy fishing over there ... the birthday party over here is something that was always envisioned in paper and in theory — and it's become a reality out here,"

-Greg Weaver

a 2019 case study by: JOHN HALVERSON JOSIAH LINDQUIST 36

Profile for Josiah Lindquist

Mueller, Austin: A Case Study  

Completed by Josiah Lindquist, & John Halverson for the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture course: "Design for New Communi...

Mueller, Austin: A Case Study  

Completed by Josiah Lindquist, & John Halverson for the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture course: "Design for New Communi...

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