December 2013 Mueller Update

Written by Rick Krivoniak

The annual Mueller Tower Lighting celebration will take place at the tower on Tuesday, December 3rd from 6 to 8 p.m. adjacent to the tower at Berkman Drive and Tom Miller Street. There will be refreshments, live music and holiday activities for the entire family. Street parking is available near the corner of Manor and Berkman. Now in its 8th year, the “NOEL” lighting on the tower began in 1961 when construction of the airport control tower was completed and continued until the 1999 airport closure, with only brief interruption during the 1970’s energy crisis. Catellus commissioned a replica display to reestablish the tradition for Mueller and the city in 2006. See you there!

Catellus’ ongoing workshops to hone the coming Aldrich Street Town Center have included the Austin Independent Business Alliance, AMLI apartment management, Seton, the Thinkery, Mueller and adjacent neighborhood residents, and several architects, planners and City staffers. Much of the discussion is about “place-making” to create a unique feel for Aldrich Street – far more difficult to achieve in new construction than in rehabbing older structures like on downtown’s 4th or 6th Streets. The Master Developer Agreement also requires 30% local businesses in the Town Center. One big challenge is that small local shops typically cannot afford the complete interior build-out needed in a new building. The City and the group are looking at some creative ideas to overcome that obstacle.

It has also been interesting to learn of the lingering bias held by several of Austin’s successful retailers and restaurateurs. Many of the local businesses that residents of Mueller, Windsor Park and adjacent neighborhoods would love to have nearby are simply not interested in being east of IH35. It’s one thing for Apple to require the proximity of numerous high-household incomes before considering a store, but for a local business to not invest in its own community where there is a demonstrated need is undeniably disheartening.

Mueller resident Dave Neider has organized two “buy-in” events to convince local business owners to consider a Mueller or nearby location. Both times, Windsor Park had the next-largest group of participating residents, and we actually had the highest number of responses to the recent online Mueller Local Business Survey! Please express your thanks to our neighborhood business folk, and continue to ask the managers and staff of businesses that you frequent outside our area to visit and see what we have to offer.

There is no December meeting of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport Plan Implementation Advisory Commission. The next Commission meeting is Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 6PM in Meeting Room 1 of the Carver Library, 1161 Angelina Street. Please send Mueller-related questions & comments to bc-Rick.Krivoniak@austintexas.gov. Happy Holidays to all!

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