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With Porches And Parks, Austin Texas Community Aims For Urban Utopia

With Porches And Parks A Texas Community Aims For Urban Utopia NPR

With Porches And Parks A Texas Community Aims For Urban Utopia NPR


In Texas, a state where cars and private property are close to a religion, there is an acclaimed master-planned community that's trying something different.

When Austin's municipal airport closed 16 years ago, it created a planner's dream: 700 acres of prime real estate close to the city core. What emerged from years of public/private/neighborhood collaboration was the Mueller Community — often spoken of as a masterwork of smart urban design.

Mueller is the product of the "new-urbanism" concept: the idea that a built environment can create meaningful community. Planners minimize the supremacy of the automobile and shape the environment around pedestrians.

Greg Weaver, Mueller project manager with Catellus Development, is walking on a crushed-granite path that circles a man-made lake complete with a fountain and diving ducks.

"The people in the park over there with the dog, the guy fishing over there ... the birthday party over here is something that was always envisioned in paper and in theory — and it's become a reality out here," Weaver says.

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It's kind of like SimCity come to life.

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