Mueller Development (Austin, Center, Clint: rent, how much, affordable house)
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Agreed, the town center phase has yet to be started and I'm very excited about what it will develop into. It is planned for phase III I think so at least 2 years away I would guess. ~K
Right now it's hard to predict the evolution and time line of the Town Center. That's a bit of a shame, as it's a major feature for people wanting to live at Mueller (not that it seems to have deterred anyone - the homes are close to being sold out for the current lots allocated by Catellus)
Greg Weaver at a neighborhood meeting a few months ago said that it could still be 3 to 5 years out, or that it might happen more organically.
I was jogging through Mueller with a friend last week and something struck me about how neat and orderly it appeared. Then I realized they bury all of the utilities. Makes a huge difference and in the future they won't have to do any of this:
Brief update on our experience building here. Not moved in yet as the rain messed up everybody's schedule and the trades are even harder to book than they were.
The Real Estate Situation: The folks who bought in the first couple phases back in 2007 are getting eye-popping tax bills as the floor for anything other than the affordable houses program climbed from $260 to $360-$400 and average prices hover around the $550 area. When we were looking last December, new construction ranged from $450 for a row home to $850 for one of the 3200+ sq ft super-modern 3-floor four- or six-plexes Standard Pacific is building. I haven't seen any builders listing anything at $450 since then, but they haven't announced the next section as far as I know.
The building process also bears mentioning. We hadn't been through totally new construction before - while our current SW Austin home was a new place, it was a spec house and so we only dealt with the builder (Standard Pacific) for warranty issues, where they were mostly pretty good. Neighbors and family members who built with them here or out in Lakeway spoke highly of their process and design center, so we started with them in Mueller.
Their attitude was that 'no matter what we do, somebody will buy what we're selling, so we aren't interested in anything that will extend our schedule.' They were super nice about it and I guess I don't blame them, but we weren't so in love with the neighborhood that we'd pay a new construction premium to get essentially another spec house. So we looked elsewhere and found a smaller builder whom we like.
The relationship between the builders (not just ours) and the POA is not very good. The POA has a terrible reputation with the residents, as well - people paying dues online and getting notices from the POA that their dues haven't been paid. The company managing it, Associa Hill Country, is a huge operation that runs hundreds if not thousands of POAs and HOAs. Their local on-site person is very good when you can get her attention, so she ameliorates the problem somewhat.
Specifically for construction, there is a committee comprised of some combination of city, resident, and Catellus reps that governs what can go where and how it has to look. If you ask them (as an existing homeowner) for a change, they are not bad to deal with - but they give builders a very hard time, such that on more than one occasion we had to twist arms just to get them to agree to let us ask permission for something like 'can we plant this in the yard instead of that' not because of the price or because the builder cared at all, but rather because the builder wanted to minimize their exposure to the committee - presumably because any exposure could turn into a source of delays, whether on this project or future projects. The process is navigable if you can be very persistent and aggressive, but it's also hardly the only area where there are way too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to deciding 'how things ought to be' in Mueller. Another recent example: the City is requiring a high level of ADA compliance for residential construction, so their inspectors have to sign off on grading, stair height, and light switch height. Because we're building a dentist's office, after all.
Nevertheless, demand is very high. Mueller is not the only part of town where things sell before going to the MLS, but it is the only part of town I've seen with whole web sites dedicated to listings that don't ever make it to the MLS. Nothing sits for very long. A post in this thread from 2007 indicated that Catellus was 'working on' the problem of availability of housing between the $160 and $280 range - if they were, whatever gains they made were overtaken by Austin's market, because there is now an even larger gap between the affordable houses in the mid to high 100s and the bottom end of the regular market.
The School Situation: Exactly the same as 2007. Carstarphen wouldn't give Mueller the time of day - scuttlebutt is that she made some comment about 'whining self-entitled white people' and wanted nothing to do with them. Her successor is more receptive but it's anyone's guess as to whether this is because AISD would end up with some egg on its face if a private or charter school went in, or because the neighborhood itself would lose some of its 'we're the best community ever' brownie points if they put in anything other than a public school. Even so, AISD has just said that they haven't ruled it out, but of course that there's no money to do anything.
I don't see AISD coming up with the money to build anything there anytime soon (except for the gigantic performing arts center they already built, of course) but knowing the politics involved, I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to who will end up on the school site.
Stuff To Do: The gigundo-HEB in the Market District is pretty nice and has an attached cafe & bar, both very serviceable. Some of the commercial area is uninspiring but a couple duds have shut down and newer things are moving in. The Town Center is finally underway, to be anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse. More commercial and mixed-use are going in to the Tower District, but I haven't yet seen any announcements of what those might be. On the South end, Manor gets more hipster joints every week, and now Airport Blvd is following suit.
Neighborhood Vibe: There's no getting around it - Mueller takes itself very seriously and some of the people there are very concerned with the neighborhood's reputation as a progressive, 'transit-oriented,' new urbanist community. I don't know what 'transit-oriented' means anymore since they had to start deleting the rail line from all the sales maps; certainly there are loads of bike lanes and some nice hike & bike trails to be had, so I guess that counts. The passage of Open Carry led to a demand to boycott any local business not sufficiently opposed to it on some of the Internet forums; I'm not aware that anything has come of this, but I guess if you want to get a lot of evil looks, start packing and drive your Hummer up Berkman Drive.
Mueller has more solar power generation capacity than any other neighborhood in the United States. So much so that the word at Austin Energy is that they're tired of the place - the grid isn't set up to have one gigantic beacon of Solar Power in one section only, and AE has quietly started eliminating their subsidy in Mueller only for certain configurations (some configurations have never been subsidized anywhere, but others still are - just not in Mueller). Nonetheless, the Mueller Megawatt Project had a successful year for 2015.
Personally, I'm looking forward to neighborhood jello wrestling competitions between the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton contingents next year.
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