The Dunwoody Planning Commission voted April 12 to recommend the proposed Crown Towers development be approved by the City Council but is mandating 75 percent of the condominium units be owner occupied rather than the 50 percent as desired by the developer.

The Planning Commission’s decision follows in the footsteps of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association vote on April 10 to support the project but only if 75 percent of the condos are owner occupied.

City staff was recommending the proposed 380 units be 90 percent owner occupied.

“So it’s not what we wanted, but 75 percent is better than 90 percent,” said developer Charlie Brown after the meeting. “We hope by the time it gets to the council it will be more of what we are looking for.” The City Council will consider the project at its April 25 meeting.

Attorney Doug Dillard told Planning Commission members that developers are seeking to have for sale units at 50 percent with the understanding that percentage jumps to 75 percent within five years.

“It’s very difficult to get financing for condos these days. We’ve had 16 banks talk to us … and they can’t finance at 90 percent owner occupancy,” Dillard said.

Dillard also said the proposed development is less density than what the property is already zoned for. That means less traffic, he said.

Planning Commission Vice Chair Heyward Wescott has said he supports this kind of density built in the Perimeter area especially because of the several MARTA stations located there.

Brown said he was pleased the Planning Commission gave the project a thorough review. But the way the condo market works – building many units rapidly at the same time time as opposed to a subdivision in which homes are built over a longer period of time – makes it difficult to sell all units right away.

“Not all condos are going to sell immediately,” Brown said. “You want some to rent to cover the cost” of building.

The units at Crown Towers are expected to sell for up to $500,000 and rent for them would likely be between $2,500 to $5,000 a month, Dillard said.

Brown said high-end residential would appeal to employees working at the nearby hospitals and the numerous companies and corporations located in the area.

At the April 10 DHA meeting, board member Rick Callihan said he opposed any kind of residential coming into Dunwoody.

“I can’t believe we are considering residential,” he said. “I don’t think it brings anything to the city.”

DHA board member Bill Robinson, however, said the urban development going up in Dunwoody does not spill over into the neighborhoods and does not affect the quality of life for homeowners.

“I’ve been here 43 years and every time [new development comes] it’s the same thing — don’t do it. We’ve wrung out hands and worried Dunwoody would go down the tubes. And it never has. It’s two different cities,” he said. “They can put towers up … and it doesn’t spill over into the neighborhoods. It never has.”

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.