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American Planning Association - Opportunity and Empowerment

The HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Award honors excellence in community planning that has led to measurable benefits in terms of increased economic development, employment, education, or housing choice and mobility for low- and moderate-income residents. The award stresses tangible results and recognizes the planning discipline as an important community resource. It emphasizes how creative housing, economic development, and private investments are used in, or in tandem with, a comprehensive community development plan.




Mueller Redevelopment
The HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Awards was presented at the 2015 National Planning Awards luncheon as part of the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in Seattle, Washington.
 

Austin, Texas

The Mueller Redevelopment received the 2015 HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award for community-supported planning and redevelopment of an underserved neighborhood in East Austin, Texas. Many East Austin neighborhoods suffered from disinvestment after the construction of Interstate 35. As unemployment in these neighborhoods approached 40 percent, the residents developed a plan to revitalize the 700-acre Mueller Airport that had long created a void in the East Austin fabric. The city recognized the value in the community vision for the airport and hired planners to refine the community’s vision and goals and craft a master plan. The vision that emerged from the planning process involved replacing the airport with a dense, mixed-use, mixed-income development with a range of jobs and varied residential housing types. Through a successful public-private partnership with a master developer, the city produced a creative financing package and began implementing the plan.

The redevelopment reconnects adjoining neighborhoods and is creating a balance of jobs and housing; 2,302 residential units, including 583 affordable units, are currently occupied or under construction, and 67 area employers provide 4,850 jobs at range of income levels. The Mueller community now contains the largest concentration of LEED certified buildings in the city, and minority and women-owned businesses are receiving 25 percent of contracts for new infrastructure. At build-out, the development is expected to generate 5,900 residential units, including 1,475 units affordable to low-income households, 13 miles of trails, a joint-use school facility, 4.4 million square feet of commercial development, and 13,000 jobs.