Updated: Development team withdraws rezoning for Crown Towers

Editor’s note: This story has been updated. 

Updated at 10:02 p.m.: Crown Holdings, the development firm proposing several high rises in Dunwoody near Perimeter Mall, formally withdrew their rezoning request at a City Council meeting Monday night.

The developers pulled the Crown Towers proposal under uncertainty over what the council would decide, Crown consultant and longtime Atlanta developer Charlie Brown said. A proposal for high-rise residential that would feature 380 luxury  units, with half allowed to be rental for the first five years, got the OK from the influential Dunwoody Homeowners Association, but appeared to be stalled with council.

He credited Dunwoody staff and thanked the city for their consideration, and said the development firm would regroup and determine its next steps. 

He said Crown believes a mixed-use development, including residential, is still the best way forward to create a new “gateway for Dunwoody.”

See more on today’s developments below.

Midday update: A development team plans to pull from consideration a rezoning request in Dunwoody for a multi-tower project near Perimeter Mall.

A consultant for Crown Holdings, the group behind the Crown Towers project, said Monday the team will “go back to the drawing board” after the company’s pitch seems to have stalled with the Dunwoody City Council.

The project was expected to be heard Monday night. Consideration was previously deferred by the city council for the mammoth development involving four towers, including two condo high-rises, on the site of the former Gold Kist headquarters between Hammond Drive and I-285.

The property is already zoned for 2.4 million square feet of office space.

Developer Crown Holdings is seeking approval for two residential towers on a portion of the land, and seeking permission for half of the proposed 380 luxury units to be rental for five years. That figure would fall to a quarter of the units after that.

Charlie Brown, a longtime Atlanta developer and consultant to Crown, said the split in rental and owner-occupied units appears to be the hang up, and his firm will re-evaluate what it wants to do with the land.

The team told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that it might go forward with a strictly office development as it is currently rezoned, but Brown said Monday he still thinks a mix of uses, including residential, is the right idea for the land.

Crown also wants to better understand city council’s objections, he said.

“It’s not been a very happy day when you’ve been working on something this long,” Brown said. “But you don’t want to quit on something when you think it is this good. It’s a great community, great location and a great piece of real estate. It might be that this is the right mix for it, we just got to be patient.”

The original story appears below: 

A development group’s plan for several towers near Perimeter Mall is expected to come before Dunwoody officials tonight for a key rezoning vote.

Crown Towers

An early rendering of the Crown Towers proposal in Dunwoody. Source: Crown Holdings Group and tvsdesign

The Crown Towers project, which previously was deferred by the city council, involves four towers, including two condo high-rises, on the site of the former Gold Kist headquarters between Hammond Drive and I-285.

The property is already zoned for 2.4 million square feet of office space, and the development firm told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week it may go forward with a strictly office development if the pitch for high-rise residential is not approved.

Developer Crown Holdings is seeking a zoning change for two residential towers on a portion of the land, and seeking permission for half of the proposed 380 luxury units to be rental for five years. That figure would fall to a quarter of the units after that.

Longtime Atlanta developer Charlie Brown, who is working as a consultant for Crown, said the flexibility for rental is needed to obtain financing for the residential buildings. Apartments have long been a sticking point for Dunwoody leaders and residents, but Brown said the Crown project is just the sort of live-work-play concept that could serve as a gateway to the rapidly growing city, and be the sort of self-contained development that has a smaller impact on congestion than a pure office project.

Crown Towers

The new Crown Towers design in Dunwoody.

He said the homes would be condo-grade, luxury units, with rents starting at about $2,500 a month for the smallest units. The units listed for sale would start at $400,000 and go up substantially, the partners said.

“This could be one of the most important projects for the city of Dunwoody in a long time,” Brown said.

A message left for Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal was not immediately returned.

The proposal – which formerly included five towers – was introduced with great fanfare in January, and was one of two megawatt projects to be announced near Perimeter Mall that month. The other five-tower concept is in Sandy Springs.

But the residential portion of the Crown plans – and the plan to allow for a split between owner-occupied and rental units – has caused some heartburn with the city. The Dunwoody Crier reported last week that the council previously tabled the measure over concerns about the residential component.

The Crier reported council was concerned about enforcing such a rental vs. owner-occupied agreement, as well as the project’s impact on schools.

Crown won the endorsement of the influential Dunwoody Homeowners Association for the residential plan, while also agreeing to other conditions such as scaling back office space.

Westside Connector

In Dunwoody, the city has proposed a road to connect I-285 to the future State Farm campus and other developments in the pipeline.

Crown is simultaneously in discussions to donate land for a road that would directly connect I-285 to its project and the future State Farm campus near Perimeter Mall. The land donation would cut millions from the project cost, and provide a new entryway to the city at time when thousands of State Farm workers will be moving to the site in the coming years.

Cities around the Central Perimeter area are looking at ways to better connect disjointed streets and cloistered office parks to improve the congested area.

If the rezoning for residential isn’t approved, the team will have to go back to the original plan for a larger office development, said Eyal Livnat, who represents investors in the Crown project.

That might put the connector road’s future in jeopardy.

“Going back to the drawing board is the last thing we want to do, but it is the easiest thing to do,” Brown said.

Livnat said “Plan A” was always a pure office development. But a mixed-use concept would actually reduce traffic by being more of a self-contained project, and it would open housing options for workers in the Perimeter Mall area.

But time is wasting.

“We have investors that need to see return on their investment,” Livnat said. “There is only so much time you can sit on the sidelines.”