Austin is redeveloping urban wasteland into a prize-winning, mixed-income town by collaborating with construction firms and hundreds of members of the public. Construction firms were offered cheap loans on the proviso that a quarter of the new homes be classed as affordable. The project was designed in consultation with hundreds of locals and also aims to create jobs for the people who live there
Results & Impact
The development is projected to house 13,000 people and create the same number of jobs. A quarter of all the residential properties will be built as affordable homes. The project has won a number of awards from the Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Centre for Housing and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development
The city of Austin, and Catellus Development Corporation
The agreement was structured to reduce financing costs for the homebuilders, with loans being offered at lower interest rates. This aspect of the agreement was crucial in allowing the planners to achieve their social goals of selling a quarter of the homes at affordable prices. This was achieved by the city, the master developer, and homebuilders all agreeing to a reduced rate of return on the affordable housing portion of the project
General public, low-income workers
Cost & Value
Austin is redeveloping urban wasteland into a prize-winning, mixed-income town by collaborating with construction firms and hundreds of members of the public.
In the late 1990s, the administrators of the city of Austin, Texas decided to move the city’s Robert Mueller airport to a larger piece of land, leaving around 700 acres of space in a prime location just a few miles from the hub of Austin.
In a unique experiment, hundreds of people, including government officials, residents, architects and planners began a conversation which would eventually lead them to a solution. The empty space was in east Austin, an area which was lacking in new housing stocks and in need of economic development. The city developed a plan to build a new, sustainable, mixed use development which would attract residents of all ages and incomes. Crucial was the inclusion of green spaces and the creation of jobs across a range of salaries.
One key component of the new $1.3 billion development – called Mueller Austin in honour of the airport it was replacing – was the stipulation that one quarter of residential properties were to fall within affordable guidelines. The new development launched in 2006 and is scheduled for completion in 2020 when it will be home to around 13,000 people over an area of four million square feet. Mueller Austin will also be the site of a 13,000 strong work force. Households making 60 percent of Austin’s median family income can find affordable apartments in the community.
Mueller Austin was built through a partnership between the city and land developer Catellus Development Corporation. A master development agreement was structured in a way which reduced certain costs of development, including financing. The agreement was crucial in allowing the planners to achieve their social goals. To keep a quarter of the homes affordable, the city, master developer, and homebuilders all agreed to a reduced rate of return on the affordable housing portion of the project.
The innovative and far-reaching approach to Mueller’s redevelopment has earned Austin a number of awards from the Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Centre for Housing and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Picture: Flickr/ Garreth Wilcock