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AUSTIN-Simmons Vedder & Co. has started construction on Mosaic at Mueller, a 442-unit apartment project that is the first multifamily development at the former Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. The locally based company is developing the $45-million, 440,000-sf complex in partnership with Dallas-based Crow Holdings Realty Partners IV LP.

Houston-based Simmons Vedder was awarded development rights for the site under a ground lease with Catellus Development Group, a subsidiary of Denver-based ProLogis that the city selected to redevelop the shuttered airport. The 711-acre airport redevelopment will have a mix of transit-oriented residential and commercial space. Located three miles from Downtown Austin, the site was vacated in 1999 with the opening of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. At completion, Mueller will have 10,000 residents and 10,000 jobs.

Calling the overall development “one of the most fascinating projects Austin has ever seen,” Simmons Vedder partner John Burnham says “there are so many exciting things at Mueller. We can’t wait to get our first units out there.” Among the projects already in development are the Dell Children’s Center of Central Texas, a research facility for the University of Texas and a 325,000-sf retail center.

Mosaic at Mueller will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units from 580 sf to 1,750 sf with monthly rents from $850 to $2,500. The four-story project will wrap around a five-story parking garage with 749 spaces. Common area facilities will include a clubroom, fitness center, business center, two swimming pools and three courtyards. Unit amenities will include 10-foot ceilings, simulated wood flooring, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.

As a part of Mueller’s affordable housing program, 10% of the units will be available to renters with a household income at or below 60% of Austin’s median family income or approximately $42,650 for a four-person household. The company, which also is building the 22-acre Triangle residential and retail project at a nearby location, will begin leasing units in late summer 2008. Residents will be able to move in by late fall.

According to Burnham, the rental market in Central Austin is very strong. “We’ve seen weakness in the northwest, but the central area is performing very well,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “The Triangle has been leasing up quickly. We assume Mosaic will do equally well.”

“Simmons Vedder has tremendous experience in building housing in urban settings and we’ve worked closely with the Simmons Vedder team to help them design and build a multifamily community that will fit in with and help shape the pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use community that Mueller is becoming,” says Matt Whelan, Catellus vice president.

Catellus has also chosen six home builders for the development’s first 350 single-family homes. Groundbreaking on the first homes is scheduled soon.

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