Will The Mueller PUD Changes Bring Down Prices?

by GarrethWilcock on February 26, 2015

The Mueller PUD is changing. What is it, and what do the changes mean for people looking to buy homes in Mueller Austin – will there be lower priced homes?

What is a PUD?

Mueller_Pudding

They’re stirring the homes in the PUDding. Photo credit: Flikr / Elana Amsterdam

A Planned Unit Development (PUD) is a road map for a development. The Mueller PUD represents aspects of the design of the neighborhood which have been agreed with the City of Austin – the original owner of the site of the former airport.

How Often is the PUD Amended?

The PUD has only been amended a few times in the last ten years. The idea is that there are major changes and minor changes, and minor changes don’t require the City Council approval – these are designated as administrative.

The last major change to the Mueller PUD was in 2009. It introduced measures to make homes more affordable amongst other things, which it succeeded in doing – for a time.

What’s Changing This Time at Mueller?

MuellerPUD

The 30+ page Mueller PUD is much less enticing visually than chocolate pudding

The 2015 change is characterized as administrative (minor), and McCann Adams Studio who are designing Mueller put out a statement on MuellerAustinOnline.com to explain what is new.

Written large at the front are that the overall density isn’t going to increase, and there is no anticipated impact on traffic within Mueller and into and out of the surrounding neighborhoods. Anyone who’s been in Austin a while will know that there’s a section of the people who tend to complain about more traffic and more condos.

There are some very specific clarifications in the document, and the ones of interest are these:

  1. Clarification of parking rules to allow for duplex style condos and small lot row homes – i.e. homes at a lower price point.
  2. The dwelling units of different density can be moved around within the neighborhood as long as overall density isn’t affected. They’re just stirring the housing pot without adding any more houses. They cite the reason for this as the ability to respond to market conditions. Perhaps the plan is to build larger houses while the market supports them, and then revert to smaller denser housing later.
  3. Adding 15,000 sqft of park-related ancillary structures throughout the development, which is claimed to support more public restrooms and a park pavilion. Personally I was getting used to the varying number of portable toilets by the side of the Browning Hangar in response to the ever popular public events around there, but maybe there are more permanent plans. Of the children’s play areas, only the one opposite the Greenway Lofts is without a restroom at present. It’s a bit of a shame as there are some great gathering spots under the arbors – ideal for parties and picnics. And if a pavilion means more shade, sign me up.

Are Lower Priced Mueller Homes on the Horizon?

All of Central Austin has been experiencing a considerable uplift in prices in the last four years, and this has widened the affordability gap in Mueller even more – the gap between the income-qualified housing prices and the market rate homes.

In the PUD amendment it looks like the developer is looking to make smaller and more affordable homes moving forwards. Firstly they’re inviting builders to design a two unit building on a regular yard home lot – essentially a duplex where each half of the duplex is sold separately as a condominium. This allows the per-home price to go down and is a technique we see applied to old and new builds throughout Austin.

They’re also talking about small lot row homes which again should both increase density and reduce prices. Smaller lots, lower prices.

The designers and developer have tried to reign in climbing prices before. In 2009 this was one of the aims of the zero lot-line Garden Homes outlined in the last PUD Amendment. This brought smaller homes in denser units down into the $230,000 range at the start of 2010, though these same products are now starting in the $400,000s in 2015. This continues to leave a large portion of the Austin buying public under-served.

Personally I hope that there will be a new tranche of homes at a lower price point. I used to have a section of this website’s homes for sale for under $400,000 and this has largely become redundant.

The number one inquiry we used to get was, “Do you have any homes under $300,000 that aren’t in the income qualified scheme?”. The answer has been, “Yes, but not in Mueller. (Unless you want a one bedroom 650 sqft condo.)”

Since one of the design goals of the neighborhood is to be mixed-income, I think it would be great to have new homes back in the $200,000 – $350,000 range in addition to the occasional one bedroom condo on the resale market at the Greenway Lofts.

With the ever increasing prices in Austin and Mueller, it remains to be seen how long this price point would last. In a few years time we’ll see the proof of the PUDding.

If you are interested in keeping up with what’s going on at Mueller, please feel free to join our email list (top right), or get in touch with one of our Mueller real estate agents – 512 215 4785.

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