Having lived in Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, Keith McMullin can really appreciate the laid-back island pace that’s a world away from life in the largest Texas cities.
McMullin moved to North Padre Island in 1987 and has called Port Aransas his home since 2001. In 2006, the native Texan was elected to fill a vacant City Council seat. He then ran for mayor in 2010 and served for six years before terming out in 2016. McMullin is currently involved in a variety of community organizations that he really enjoys and, of course, running Port Aransas Realty keeps him busy as a bee.
We caught up with McMullin to discuss Port Aransas, Mustang Island and the Texas real estate business.
Why did you become a broker at Port Aransas Realty and Mustang Island Realty?
I’ve been in sales and marketing my entire career. I left the telecommunications industry and got my real estate license in 2005. I immediately started with Port Aransas Realty and I’ve always appreciated the family atmosphere here. At the time, I thought that the island would be a good place to sell a few homes and condos and earn a living. I had no idea of, and I don’t believe anybody fully anticipated, all that has transpired in the last 10 to 12 years.
How has your experience as a former Mayor of Port Aransas translated to the real estate market?
It’s given me a broader perspective and better understanding of our allure when compared to other coastal communities. Port A is an authentic small island town with multi-generational families, a stellar public school system and an incredibly strong bond among our residents. We are surrounded by nature with wide open, protected areas.
A third of Mustang Island is a State Park. The Port Aransas Nature Preserve protects over 1,200 acres within the city limits, and then of course there are the many protected critical dune systems and wetlands. The Padre Island National Seashore–the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world–lies to our south and the federally-protected San Jose Island is our northern neighbor.
With your long term involvement in the Port Aransas community, why do you think people are drawn to Cinnamon Shore?
They have really created a special place that is unique on the Texas coast and easily rivals the well established communities in the Florida panhandle on 30-A. Owners and guests can unwind from a fast-paced life back home in a small town setting and enjoy a “simpler way of life” as they like to say. Of course the beachfront setting is key and Cinnamon Shore makes it easy for the whole family to enjoy a day at the beach along with other activities like yoga, sandcastle lessons and the popular movie nights on the great lawn…capped off with DIY s’mores.
Another key part of the equation is convenience. We are a short drive from the major Texas metros: San Antonio 2.5 hours, Austin 3.5 hours, Houston 4 hours and DFW 6.5 hours. Lastly, there is the financial aspect. The homes, cottages and condos offer a healthy investment opportunity through appreciation and vacation rental income.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected visitors to Mustang Island/Port Aransas?
Early in the year the island was eerily quiet just like the rest of the world while everyone was staying safe at home. Then in early May, as Texas opened back up, everything just took off.
All of our inherent strengths suddenly became even more desirable than before…a small town, miles of uninterrupted wide sandy beaches and being a convenient drive from home. Renting a place here allowed people to control their environment like they did at home, but they’re at the beach. Mom and dad can work remotely, the kids are logging in for distance learning. It’s a great vacation escape that doesn’t involve flying or leaving Texas.
In recent months we’ve all been reading about the migration happening all over the country. Americans are leaving the big cities and opting for rural areas. We’re certainly seeing that in our real estate market with historic sales levels and unprecedented interest.
Tell us more about why Mustang Island and 30A in Florida are compared.
In 2007, Jeff Lamkin had recently acquired the 64 acres that would become Cinnamon Shore. He knew the success of the 30A communities like Seaside and Rosemary Beach firsthand having vacationed there many times. Jeff wanted to bring those same concepts to Texas. He partnered with Mark Schnell who is an urban planner based in Santa Rosa Beach, FL (the heart of 30A). Together they introduced New Urbanism to the Texas coast on Mustang Island. It is a development concept based on the principles of how cities and towns had been built years ago with walkable streets, housing and shopping in close proximity and accessible parks and recreational facilities all creating a highly livable community.
Mark has since brought his talents to the design of Palmilla Beach and Sunflower Beach which are communities that neighbor Cinnamon Shore. I once heard Mark refer to these communities on Mustang Island as “The New Texas Coast” and I’ve yet to hear a more accurate description. Coincidentally Mustang Island and the 30A stretch of communities are both 18 miles long and front the Gulf of Mexico.
Cover photo courtesy Keith McMullin
Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.