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With Porches and Parks, a Texas Community Aims for Urban Utopia (npr.org)
61 points by rbanffy on Feb 13, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments

That's nice. But does it have supermarkets, cafes, physicians and schools within walking distance? The article omits to say.

This is important. When Lisbon expanded in the 1960s the newly built-up areas were designed so that primary schools and churches were always within walking distance, as these were the centers of community. And apartment blocks had shops on the ground floor.

> And apartment blocks had shops on the ground floor.

This is one of my favorite features of the Mueller area: the apartments do have shops on the ground floor. I actually live in a live-work unit in one of the apartments. My wife and I live upstairs, and she runs a hair salon on the ground floor below our unit. The other shops nearby include a small convenience/grocery store, a chiropractor, a shared-work space, restaurants, a small gym, etc.

The shops on the ground floor really improve the quality of the area, so I'm glad that Austin is finally pushing for more of this.

There's an HEB supermarket within walking/cycling distance. There's also a Snap Kitchen prepared-foods store and a farmer's market.

If you like the idea of HOAs, you'll love Mueller. There's tons of rules around what you can and can't do on your property. The uniformity of the place is mind-numbing. But the people who live there seem to like it a lot, so good for them, I guess. I prefer some more diversity in people and architecture.

It looks like there's an elementary public school within walking distance, but the middle and high schools are a bit farther (2.5-3mi). Everything else exists within walking distance. Their FAQ[0] covers your questions and a bit more.


While I think that there may in fact be racial issues still going on, I feel like the "smoking gun" stat they gave of a shrinking African-American population isn't quite that simple.



Great way to secure your future, denying reality.

Wait, East of Highway 35? Really?

So where are they planning to have the gun shop? After a couple years of living down there I knew which parts of town weren't ideal after dark. That's...kind of not where I'd pick to live. There's a reason demand is more out West of the City rather than East.

Mixed income housing reads nice on paper. I wish I was kidding, but I get the feeling that crime in that area might be an issue.

You must not cross 35 often. Mueller is another middle class neighborhood now and even 'notorious' corners like 12th and Chicon are surrounded by new developments.

People hate on gentrification but Austin's worst neighborhoods (which are comparatively great) are being torn down and replaced with mid-level apartments or homes.

It is a serious issue there, I would need to dig it up, but at one time one of the most crime infested blocks in all of Austin is just right around the corner from that place (north of 183, between Lamar and 35). Drive around some the surrounding neighborhoods, quickly becomes evident what state that part of town is in.

Yeah, calling Rundberg "right around the corner" from Mueller is a bit of a stretch. Most of central Austin would fall under that generous definition.

Yes, the area is called Rundberg.

I live in a similar neighbourhood (garages in the back with alley ways, and front porches) and there are a lot more kids playing then some neighbourhoods, but I feel like that has more to do with the people than the built environment.

As well, that mock up look likes incredibly dense, which I know they said is intentional. However I would rather see a move to larger yards than smaller. And I'm sure firefighters would agree with me.

Smaller yards (and/or streets!) mean you're substantially closer to the park. And the pool. And the store. Everything, really.

Big yards and wide streets are murder for walkability.

[edit] second paragraph removed because I realized it was largely nonsensical.

Fire Departments tailor each station's equipment to the area it serves. They train their staff based on the situations they are likely to encounter.

In a former life I worked alongside several of the people instrumental in developing NFPA 13R. Part of that development was that department's development of a fire hose nozzle "with a spear at the tip". It could be jambed through the roof of a wood framed structure from the exterior and spray water into the attic space without causing flashover.

In recent years, many fire departments have focused their political efforts on requiring domestic fire sprinklers in new one and two family dwellings and the major US model code - International Residential Code - has required this in the last several editions. Multi-family dwellings have required sprinkler systems for at least a generation.

Incidentally, the approximately 3000 fire deaths in dwellings pales in comparison to fatalities from falls (or for that matter self-inflicted gunshots or automobile collissions). Falling asleep while smoking is the most prevalent cause of a fatal fire in a dwelling.

The number of fires has been going down over time, although the number of firefighters haven't. They do have to be close enough to fires, so can't decline as much. The overall declines are however good from a quality of human life perspective.

US Fire administration stats showing ~20% declines in the last decade: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/

Firefighters don't fight fires "Over the past 35 years, the number of fires in the United States has fallen by more than 40% while the number of career firefighters has increased by more than 40%". Shows false alarms, medical calls etc. http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/07/fir...

British analysis - Explaining the steep decline in the frequency of fires http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/explaining-the-steep-de...

Interesting stuff but I was kind of referring to the fact that homes are so close together that when 1 house burns, the neighbours on each side burn as well.

I encourage anyone interested in this subject to read Jan Gehl's Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space http://amzn.to/1Cpbe3u

And they're all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

Yeah, it's unfortunate that most of the houses are pretty hideous. Each has 4-5 different clashing facades in varying shades of beige. Angles, jutting edges, and warts sprout out all over the place. There are some nice looking units though, not all are ugly.

One of the better things Mueller does is have sidewalks on both sides of the street pretty much everywhere, while the rest of Austin is lucky to have sidewalks on one side of the street every other block.

That said like most Austin neighborhoods, you can get around inside the neighborhood on foot, but traversing between neighborhoods requires a car. Mueller is trapped by high traffic fast roads on all sides and the result is that pretty much everyone has cars.

Actually, the area hired a number of leading architects to design the homes. Different subdivisions have similar feels, but I find the houses themselves to have a quite a bit of variety. I dig 'em.

Of course, you could also just be complaining about the idea of new development, generally, but all the new folks we keep producing are going to have to live someplace. I'm a fan of the choices they've made in Mueller so far.

Eh, I'm partial to the sort of haphazard mashup you see in my home city of Houston, especially inside 610 :)

As for my comment, the second image that you are greeted with by the link is a nice little diorama of the suggested plan, and sure enough there are neat little row of unique-but-not-really houses. Here, see for yourself: http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/02/12/mueller-26_wide-e...

It's very Austin. It's cute, it's quirky, it's artificial, it's done to attract people looking to move into a "hip" and "liberal" city, all without that troubling bit about socioeconomic or cultural dynamic range.

It'll make a lot of money for the developers, a lot of homes for happy white upper-middle-class folks, and probably be bulldozed in thirty years. Let's just not kid ourselves that it's anything more.

Actually, this is one new neighborhood in Austin with a strong affordable housing component, integrated directly into the neighborhood.

Certain homes in Mueller are income-limited (according to varying levels of affordability), while others are market rate. You can't necessarily tell from the outside which are which, so it's actually a little better than another programs for affordability.

You'd have a stronger argument with most other master-planned communities in Austin, but Mueller's property was owned by the city of Austin (the former airport), and the city council at the time set very stringent standards on the master developer.

That's not to argue that this form of interventionist urban planning is good or bad, but Mueller simply isn't a market-rate, upper middle class development.

Comparing a neighborhood to the entire 610 loop is unfair.


Also, I'm not going to bite on the the Austin jab. It just strikes me as strange that every person from Houston is so insecure about their city they are constantly bashing Austin/DFW/San Antonio.

Haphazard mashups are not how we're going to fix the many problems that face a rapidly expanding city like Austin.

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