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ROMA considers changes in Mueller master plan

Friday, September 19, 2008 by Kimberly Reeves

Changes to the Mueller community – including some shifts in density and additional housing types – are on the drawing board as ROMA considers the first tweaks to the Mueller master plan in four years.


The vision for Mueller has consistently incorporated two goals: the community would include affordable housing and it would be compatible with the surrounding single-family neighborhoods. As the price of housing climbs, however, master developer Catellus and its partners are going to have to get more creative with housing options.


Realtor Dee Copeland, who sits on the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport Plan Implementation Advisory Committee, has taken the lead on the affordable housing issue. In her own recent survey of potential homeowners, Copeland said buyers understood a price of $180,000 to $240,000 is not going to provide you a 2,000 square foot house with a big yard.


“People know if they want a two-story home with a big yard, Mueller is not going to be the community for them,” Copeland said. “They understand we’re going to have to change the product to get to the lowest price point possible.”


To that end, and in light of recent developments in the north end of the development, Jim Adams of ROMA is proposing changes to some of Mueller’s neighborhoods, changes that are not significant enough to require amendments to the Mueller PUD. Adams said it makes sense to revisit the plan with the completion of the first on-site neighborhood.


For instance, circumstances in the planned neighborhood north of the proposed Mueller Town Center have changed significantly. The alignment of a potential rail line would pass through the community. And the University of Texas’ Health Science campus will extend into the area. So it may make more sense for the area to have more mixed-use buildings that incorporate residences, rather than the original row house proposal.


Mueller actually started out with four housing types: two different types of row houses; the four-to-six-plex Mueller homes along the major esplanades of the community; and an option for multi-family housing.


Now it seems more logical to make the neighborhoods north and east of the Mueller Town Center denser, with an emphasis on denser housing types. In the neighborhood to the north, more mixed-use buildings are envisioned. To the east, a younger “hipper” community is envisioned. Changes to the film studio proposal also provide the option to move open space inside the community rather than to the periphery, Adams said.


Adams also sees higher density in the neighborhoods on the southern fringe of the Mueller development, in the area around the former flight tower for Mueller. This neighborhood also presents an option for a senior tax-credit project.


Four new housing prototypes would help Catellus accomplish these goals at Mueller, based on input out of an earlier housing forum. Adams is proposing four additional housing types: an attached row house with a wider lot, a model that would provide something between a yard house and the current row house; a garden court with row houses rather than cottage homes with single-car garages, allowing a density of up to 22 units per acre; a tuck-under row house that is two or three stories on end cap lots, which would provide a density of 28 units per acre; and mixed-use housing options.


These new models would add a significant number of residential units to Mueller, possibly up to 20 percent in additional units. Today, Mueller has a planned 4,500 units. That means another 800 units or so could be put on the property, as long as those units still fit within the trips allowed under the Mueller PUD.


The new housing types are still being vetted and reviewed. Adams will be working with the plan implementation commission to make sure local neighborhoods are still comfortable with Mueller’s compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.

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