How many cities can boast a central neighborhood that was built from scratch in the 21st century? Austin can, thanks to its successful efforts to turn the former Robert Mueller Municipal Airport into a mixed-use urban village. The neighborhood's location three miles from downtown Austin and two miles from the University of Texas campus has made it a popular choice for downsizing empty nesters, young professionals and families who want to be close to the bustle of the city's central core.
This remains an unsettled issue in the neighborhood and the city at large. While the expected pronunciation would be "Mewler," many people still insist that it should be "Miller." Apparently, Robert Mueller pronounced his name Miller.
The Mueller neighborhood sits on the 711-acre site of the former city airport, which opened in 1936 and relocated to the decommissioned Bergstrom Air Force Base in southeast Austin in 1999. The following year, city and community leaders developed and adopted a redevelopment plan incorporating new housing, retail and commercial construction while keeping the character of the old airport by preserving several hangars (used as movie studios) and the control tower.
In 2007, Dell Children's Medical Center and the area's first stores opened; developers broke ground on the first single-family homes late that summer. A year later, hike-and-bike trails and educational gardens opened. They serve as the centerpiece of the neighborhood's 140-acre park system.
Mueller Lake Park
The 30-acre park surrounds a 6.5-acre lake in the heart of the neighborhood. About the only complaint you’ll hear about this park is the lack of shade. Most of the trees are still too short to provide much relief from the heat. Five miles of gravel and concrete paths meander through the park and around the lake. There are plenty of benches along the way and doggy waste bag dispensers. You can even see downtown from a couple of high points. The trails also connect to a bike trail that winds through the entire Mueller neighborhood.
Kids love the extra-fancy playscape at Mueller Lake Park. It’s not your typical generic green slide and a couple of tubes to crawl through. It has big, spinny things, a sand pit with water spigots, a climbing structure and a kind of merry-go-round/seesaw combo. There are several variations on swings, including one with a round seat big enough for a couple of youngsters. A large amphitheater in the park hosts movies, concerts and festivals. Near the old hangar, there is an ever-evolving selection of food trucks and trailers, offering both quick bites and full meals.
Catch-and-release fishing is allowed in the lake. Swimming, unfortunately, is not. The lake is home to a healthy population of ducks, and duck feeding is a popular activity among the kiddos. Watch out for the geese, though. They can be aggressive.
Open every Sunday, the farmer’s market sets up shop in the old hangar. More than 40 vendors sell seasonal produce, cheeses, milk, handmade jewelry, meats, and prepared foods. Fermented foods and drinks continue to be popular, including pickles, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt and beer. Most are generous with the free samples; that’s how they getcha. Pony rides, a small petting zoo and balloon makers keep the kids entertained. An abundance of strollers and small dogs can lead to minor traffic jams and unexpected licking.
The Mueller neighborhood is bounded by East 51st Street to the north, Manor Road to the west, Airport Boulevard to the south and Interstate 35 to the east.
The neighborhood, which welcomed its first residents in 2008, is now home to more than 15,000 people in 5,100 single-family, condo or apartment homes.
According to Zillow.com, 70 percent of the households in Mueller's ZIP code (78723) do not have children. Forty-three percent of residents are married, 41 percent are single, 11 percent are divorced and 5 percent are widowed. The median household income for the area is nearly $60,000 a year, and the median age is 31.
Public: Students in the Mueller neighborhood are assigned to Maplewood Elementary, Kealing Middle School and McCallum High School. For information on the schools, visit the Austin Independent School District site.
Private: Private schools in the Mueller area include St. Francis School, Concordia Academy, Kamico Academy, the Griffin School and Hope Lutheran School.
Rent: Mosaic Austin is one of the only apartment buildings offering rentals in the neighborhood. One-bedroom units cost between $1,800 and $2,250. Two-bedroom apartments rent for between $2,560 and $3,200. Three-bedroom rentals cost about $3,300 a month.
Buy: According to Zillow.com, the average listing price for a single-family home in the Mueller neighborhood was between $440,000 and $450,000, higher than the average listing price of $430,000 for the city as a whole. According to Trulia.com, homes on the market at Mueller range from $280,000 for a 1,500-square-foot house with 2 bedrooms and 21/2 bathrooms to just under $1 million for a 3-bedroom, 41/2 bathroom home with more than 3,600 square feet. To view homes available on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), visit AustinHomeSearch.com.
Shopping and Restaurants
Mueller's main commercial area, which runs along the neighborhood's eastern boundary, includes big-box stores such as Home Depot, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Staples and Best Buy as well as apparel retailers like Old Navy, Lane Bryant and The Children's Place. Dining options include Cafe Mueller, Chipotle Grill, Which Wich and Papa John's Pizza.