Here is the letter I just sent to the Mueller neighborhood redevelopment planners as well as two Austin newspapers. Feel my rage:
My family and I have been excitedly awaiting our lottery-based chance to join the new neighborhood at the old airport. The Mueller redevelopment project has purported itself to be “…an attractive option for all kinds of people, with all kinds of lifestyles, in all price ranges.” It sounded perfect: a neighborhood specifically designed to reduce dependence on cars, encourage community and discourage sprawl.
We work hard and live frugally. My husband spends nearly two hours a day commuting. Our kids see him for about an hour. To even have a possibility to live in an affordable home near work, be able get rid of one car, spend less time on the road and more with family seemed too good to be true. It was.
On March 5th the planners unveiled their builders and costs. To our dismay, we make just slightly more money than the cut-off for the affordable homes. To our horror, the next price bracket for homes in the new development jumps up $100, 000 (And even these are too small for a family of four). We have been priced out of yet another neighborhood; and we’re not the only ones. There is a huge segment of the population who will be completely ineligible to take part in a neighborhood “designed to be as diverse as possible.” It is far from diverse. In fact, it seems that they simply want to build high-end, high-profit properties and include affordable units as a PR gimmick.
As I understand it, this development will move forward in phases. I would like the city of Austin and the Catellus Development Group, who choose the builders, to be aware of the middle class that is once again being left behind. So far, their “laboratory for innovative approaches to community development” has failed. We don’t need the granite counter-tops, wood floors and chandeliers that the plans tout. Perhaps it is not too late for the planners to remember their original goals for the next phase in the project. Cut out the extras, bring a few of the home prices down and become truly “diverse”.”