$newsid = ''; ?> Tuesday and Wednesday I made it into Mueller Central and an affordable home seminar offered by Catellus and David Weekley.
Everyone I talked to was very nice and took a lot of time to answer my questions. I got a a map [PDF] which ends the mystery about the layout of phase 1, and an approximate price list by builder.
The layout: Phase 1 of the Mueller Pioneer lottery process will be built in two sub-phases, 1a and 1b, to be completed a few months apart. Phase 1b will also include a "neighborhood park and amenity center" with an olympic lap pool. I was right about the location of the garden homes at Camacho and Moreno streets, and that there are just a few of them as an experiment. Builders are assigned entire blocks, which concerns me a bit; even though each builder has a couple of floor plans and several facades, there would have been more variety if they'd mixed the builders up within each block. On the plus side, Weekley's "affordable" and "market rate" yard houses will be mixed (but not their row houses). Interestingly, one block facing the lake park has been reserved for custom homes, which I'd guess will be $1M and higher given that the Streetman houses are in the upper $500K+ range.
Prices and counts: Contrary to what I reported the other day, yard houses from Davd Weekley and Meritage should start in the mid-$240K range. Specific prices are to come from the builders, but even those are not yet fixed; a David Weekley rep at the affordability seminar told me that they have to get their plans through the architectural review first, which may or may not happen before the end of April when the Pioneer program closes! So Pioneers have to choose a builder and category (yard vs. row house) on the basis of an approximate price and an approximate floor plan.
Here's the approximate price and count for each house style -- this is from the handout they gave me and will be subject to change! Watch MuellerAustin for the official word.
Builder Type Count Price range David Weekley Market-rate row houses 23 from the low $200,000's David Weekley Market-rate yard houses 69 from the low to mid $200,000's David Weekley Affordable row houses 40 from the $120,000's David Weekley Affordable yard houses 31 from the $140,000's Meritage Yard houses 52 from the $240,000's Muskin Garden court houses 6 from the $280,000's Saldaña Garden court houses 6 from the $200,000's Standard Pacific Yard houses 84 from the $330,000's Streetman Yard houses 37 from the $500,000's
I'm no bookie, but based on these numbers my guess is that the demand relative to the supply will be most intense for affordable yard houses and from there it will be inversely related to price. New urbanist and green built or not, my hunch is that the intensity of interest in Mueller is primarily price-driven. If you can afford it, your best bet in the lottery may be on the Streetman or Standard Pacific higher-end models. It will be interesting to see how the actual signup/inventory ratios turn out for each category. (Idea: This might be a job for a prediction market, assuming prediction markets can handle complex multi-variable systems like this. I should talk to Ed Vielmetti.)
The rollout: Phase 1 is the first of nine phases to be completed over ten years (yes, count 'em, ten years). The Town Center is not to be built until phase 3, which will disappoint the people interested in live/work and shop houses. The apartments at the south end of Mueller will be built in phase 2 or 3 as well, and so far there's no word on what their design will be like. (Let me make a pessimistic guess: can you say Triangle?)