Austin’s New Urban Village – The Old Airport Revitalization

An area of Austin which is currently undergoing revitalization is the old Mueller Airport area, near the intersection of Manor Road and Airport Boulevard in East Central Austin. This location offers residents and visitors alike many interesting opportunities. Housing is very affordable in the area, including single family homes and duplexes, and also numerous nice but inexpensive apartment complexes. Since this area is just a few miles from the University of Texas campus, it is ideal for students and faculty members, as well as downtown area employees who are looking for a neighborhood which is affordable yet extremely close to downtown business and entertainment districts and the college area. Manor Road itself is home to many fine restaurants, including El Chile, and El Gringo, both wonderful restaurants specializing in Mexican cuisine, and Hoover’s , a southern-style restaurant specializing in BBQ and various other regional Texas specialties. The Eastside Café, a popular restaurant which specializes in natural and fresh from the garden choices, is situated on Manor Road just across the interstate and is very convenient for U.T. students, faculty, and visitors to the campus area. The Eastside Café has a reputation for very fresh seafood as well as tempting steaks and other entrees. All of these restaurants have been patronized by well known political visitors recently, including Bill Clinton’s visit to Hoover’s while campaigning in Austin with his wife Hillary and family.

The University of Texas sports facilities are also very close to the east-central vicinity of Austin, especially Dish Faulk field, for Longhorn baseball fans, and Royal Memorial Stadium, for Longhorn football fans. Both of these sports venues are near the intersection of Interstate 35 and East Martin Luther King Blvd, which runs somewhat parallel to Manor Road, east of Interstate 35. The Erwin Center is also just a stone’s throw away, at Red River and Martin Luther King, just west of the interstate.

Prior to closing in 1999, Mueller Airport was the oldest municipal airport in Texas, and it originally opened to the public in 1930. After the new Bergstrom International Airport was established south of Austin at the site of the old Bergstrom Air Force Base, Mueller Field closed to air traffic, and is presently being redeveloped as a center for the arts, affordable homes, and many other exciting businesses and attractions. The old airport site encompasses 711 acres of space, and is designated for “mixed use” development now, including many movie-making related facilities. The site is home to the new Austin Studios film-making complex, which includes soundstages, sets, and various other commercial ventures associated with Austin’s burgeoning motion picture, theater and arts communities. Many of the old airport hangars have been converted to use as soundstages for these endeavors, and the area is ideal for this type of activity, since it is such a large area, and so conveniently located, but is still very quiet and has a rural feel to it since it has not been developed or inhabited much in the past, especially since the airport relocated.

The site will eventually be home to 10,000 residents and has been referred to as an “urban village”, with its proximity to the major urban areas yet its small town flavor. The site will eventually include schools, shops, homes, apartment complexes, entertainment and various other businesses and services. In addition to these exciting, revenue-generating ventures, the area is projected to include 140 acres of public open spaces and 13 acres of hike and bike trails, making the neighborhood very pedestrian-friendly as well as offering immediate access to Austin’s fine mass transit system, the Cap Metro bus routes.

Right across Manor Road from the old airport entrance is another attraction for sports fans, the Morris Williams Golf Course, which is an eighteen-hole public golf course, with green fees of twenty dollars or less on a year-round basis. This area is also very accessible to out of town visitors, since both Manor Road and Martin Luther King eventually intersect with U.S. Highway 183 when travelling east or northeast. U.S. 183 serves the Austin metro area as a loop around the eastern perimeter of the city, where it is referred to as Ed Bluestein Blvd. It also intersects with Highway 290 East and Highway 71 East, as well as Interstate 35, so it is very convenient to get in and out of the east-central community around the old Mueller Airport.

This area is sure to become a vital part of Austin in the very near future, and offers the finest attractions and amenities now for every segment of the population, young and old alike!