The Austin Chronicle

Hooray for Muellerwood?

By Mike Clark-Madison, January 25, 2002, News

Long ago in the New Mueller planning process, the name "Muellerwood" was suggested in jest, given the airport's proximity to neighborhoods such as Cherrywood, Delwood, and Wilshire Woods. But with the success of the Austin Studios -- the film soundstage complex located in Mueller's abandoned hangars and sheds -- the name takes on a whole new meaning.

Indeed, the Studios' so-far stellar run has made Mueller stakeholders rethink the long-term impact of what was originally an "interim" use (though that "interim" period may last 15 years). "We feel tremendously lucky to have the opportunity, because lots of other groups wanted to use this property," says Studios director Suzanne Quinn. "For it to be as successful as it has is good, because that's probably why it was 'interim.'"

If, as is likely, the Studios become a more-or-less permanent anchor of the New Mueller, the project gains a new identity as a nascent hub of the entertainment industry in a town that, despite having a lot of industry people, has had no such place and has wanted one. "There are so many ancillary uses -- hotels, restaurants, post-production facilities, suppliers of goods and services to the industry," says Quinn, who also mentions several joint opportunities with UT's expanding film, music, and media departments.

The obvious comparison is with the Las Colinas project outside Dallas, which developer Trammell Crow anchored with what was, 20 years ago, a state-of-the-art film production complex, much more self-consciously swanky than the recycled pre-fabs at Mueller. But Las Colinas has faltered both as a production location and as an industry hub, partly because it met Trammell Crow's needs better than the film community's, and partly because the Metroplex isn't as gung-ho about film as Austin is. Given that the city really wants the film industry here, and really wants anchor tenants to help the New Mueller fly, these two co-stars should show a lot of chemistry.

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