My expectations for Mueller were set by statements like this one from the City of Austin's RMMA redevelopment page:
A fundamental principal [sic] of the RMMA development is the creation of a higher intensity mixed-use community that will not depend solely upon automobiles for its transit needs. Residences and employment facilities will be developed within walking distance of one another, along with shops, open space, and future transit facilities. It is expected that many people will choose to live in the new community because of the level of convenience and the ability to avoid heavy traffic.
The key phrase there is "walking distance." I like the idea of stepping out my front door and walking to the neighborhood bar or restaurant. A lot of other people must like this idea, too, because that's how Mueller's been marketed since the start.
I can see that narrow lots are a prerequisite to having a walkable "village." If you chop the standard suburban lot in two, you can put the same number of people on half the amount of land and cut the walking time in half. What would have been a twenty-minute walk (a car trip, more likely) becomes a ten-minute stroll.
It's not enough just to lay out a bunch of narrow lots, though. Exploiting the density requires actually putting the retail near the residential. Otherwise, you haven't shortened the walk. A twenty-minute walk is a twenty-minute walk, whether you're walking past 45'-wide lots or 90'-wide lots.
This is my main concern about Mueller. I'm beginning to worry that many of the single-family homeowners will still be a car-drive away from the nearest retail, even after Mueller is built out.
Take the homes near the red dot. It is over 4,000 feet on a line from the red dot to to the blue dot (Town Center). It is well over a mile over the street grid. That is a long way. Your typical homeowner isn't going to make that walk, at least not very often.
It's not clear that these homeowners will have a closer alternative. The plan calls for some mixed use at the southern edge (green dot). This conceivably could include retail, including restaurants and cafes. But the Catellus rep told me that that ultimately depends on the specific development. It may have retail if it's developed as apartments, but it won't if it's developed as condos.
There don't seem to be any other good options for homeowners in the southern third of the development. The map there is basically all yellow (residential). If retail gets shut out of the mixed-use development around the green dot, I think these homeowners will be getting in and out of their cars more than we'd expect for urban "villagers."