Texas Blackland Prairie Restoration
Catellus Development Group, the master developer of Mueller, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center announced plans today for Mueller's Southwest Greenway, including a prairie restoration project and educational amenities for the area. As part of the parks announcement, representatives from RVi Planning & Landscape Architecture provided updates on the progress of the soon-to-be completed Northwest Greenway and representatives from Studio 8 Architects unveiled renderings of the community's first neighborhood park.
"An interconnected park and trail system that promotes environmental awareness and encourages pedestrian and bicycle transit has been a crucial part of the Mueller vision since its inception more than 20 years ago," said Matt Whelan, senior vice president of Catellus. "No other Austin neighborhood will have as extensive a park system as Mueller. Our parks and greenways will be a unique and sustainable amenity for future residents, Mueller neighbors and the entire Austin community to enjoy."
Plans for the Southwest Greenway, which will open in 2008 and run along the edge of the neighborhood from Zach Scott Street to Berkman Drive, will transform a piece of the old Robert Mueller Municipal Airport back into its original state – a Texas blackland prairie. Catellus, RVi and the Wildflower Center will develop the area into a recreational green space that restores native plants and educates children and families about the ecosystem and prairies of Central Texas. Signage throughout the trail will provide prairie preservation information and illustrate how humans, animals and plants interact within a prairie ecosystem.
"Tall grass prairies, like the Texas blackland prairie, are one of the most endangered large ecosystems in North America," said Mark Simmons, an ecologist with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Landscape Restoration Program who is helping to develop the concept for the Southwest Greenway. "Part of this land was once an airport parking lot. We've been given a tremendous opportunity to nurture it back to the unique native prairie that it originally was and show off the beauty and importance of this landscape in an urban setting."
Plans for the Southwest Greenway include tall, mixed and short grass prairie areas with a children's maze mown into the tall grass area, a picnic area and informational exhibits on native plants, animals, soils and seeds. The greenway will also be home to a large pond with waterfalls and demonstration gardens that will teach visitors how to plant and cultivate native plants in their own yards.
"No one in Austin has done anything like Mueller's Southwest Greenway," said Barbara Austin, project manager for RVi. "We love the idea of creating a greenspace that will educate families about the importance of prairies and teach people to incorporate native plants in their own yards. We're forging a connection between the Southwest Greenway and the backyards of Mueller residents and neighbors, fostering a larger area where native plants and animals can thrive."
Mueller's Northwest Greenway, the first leg of a five-mile trail system that will loop around the neighborhood, is nearly complete and will be open to the public before this summer. The greenway, which runs from the corner of Philomena Street and I-35 to the tip of the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Aldrich Street, features a 10-foot-wide hike and bike trail made of decomposed granite. The greenway will provide pedestrian connections to the adjacent Delwood II neighborhood, Mueller's retail center, the Dell Children's Medical Center and the upcoming Simmons Vedder apartment complex. Amenities along the trail will include an accessible playscape near the Dell Children's Medical Center and a picnic area with a trellis shade structure.
The Northwest Greenway includes native landscaping features, shade trees, several transplanted mature red oak trees and more than 60 transplanted pecan trees that are 20-25 feet in height. Mueller will also feature parks in each of its neighborhoods, the first of which is slated to open in 2008 and will serve the residents who move in during the first and second residential phases. The 2.5-acre park site, which features elements designed by Bosse and Turner and Studio 8 Architects, is located between McCloskey and Antone streets, north of the Southwest Greenway's pond. The design for the park includes a children's playscape area, an acre of open lawn, a basketball/sport court, shaded picnic areas and a junior Olympic-sized, 5-lane lap pool with an attached wading pool for small children. The pool area will be the focal point of the site with open-air changing rooms for visitors and a large sloping grass lawn framed by a grand seat wall.
"Our inspirations for this pool and pool house were landmark Austin swimming facilities like Barton Springs and Deep Eddy," said Bhavani Singal, project manager for Studio 8. "We want to create a handsome and timeless gathering place for the neighborhood."
Mueller's Lake Park, which is currently home to Mueller Central and a 6.5-acre lake, will be completed in 2008. Plans for the 20-acre park include an amphitheatre with a stage, a children's playground, a loop trail that connects to Mueller's trail system, picnic facilities and a jogger stretching area. Upon Mueller's completion in 10-15 years, 20 percent of the 711-acre community will be parkland with the goal of every Mueller resident living no more than 600 feet from a green space. About Mueller (www.MuellerAustin.com)
Mueller will be developed over 10 to 15 years and is expected to include more than 140 acres of open space, a pattern of landscaped streets designed to support pedestrians and bicycles, up to 4,600 singlefamily and multi-family living units, a mixed-use town center, an elementary school, the 32-acre campus of the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas, 3.8 million square feet of office space, 650,000 square feet of retail space and a central transit corridor that provides for a possible extension of mass transit service. The project's first residential phase is scheduled to break ground this summer with Mueller's first residents moving in by early 2008.