Like the old adage says: "Bigger isn't always better, but smaller can be tougher to finance." Or something like that. A handful of downsized developments in Atlanta could be evidence of a trend toward higher-priced boutique condos, as opposed to the monoliths of yesteryear. In a column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle, SkyRise Group vice president Anne Schwall writes that Atlanta's existing condo inventory has been all but depleted (see hotcake sales at Sovereign, 1010 Midtown and the W Downtown Residences, to name a few). Developers in other cities are finding that projects with fewer, but still spacious homes are selling well, offering exclusivity without long elevator waits. Atlanta buyers still crave the maintanence-free lifestyle that condos afford, Schwall writes, but construction financing for condominium starts remains a serious obstacle.
With rents high, apartment towers are still the darlings of post-recession Atlanta, but projects in Ansley Park and Midtown show signs that developers have confidence in the boutique route.
At the corner of Piedmont Avenue and 15th Street in Ansley Park, Miller Lowry Developments and Kim King Associates plan to build a condo community of just six homes across the street from Piedmont Park called "Ansley Green," with prices for two-bedroom units starting in the low $600,000s. Elsewhere in Midtown, another modestly sized building called "Seventh" is offering 21 condos, with prices starting in the same neighborhood (mid-$600,000s). And John Wieland has plans for a five-story building on a long-vacant site across from the High Museum of Art. That boutique project, initially planned at 23 stories, could break ground in April, offering merely 48 units.
Schwall points out that for all the exclusivity boutique buildings afford, they can had downsides. Fewer residents could mean larger HOA expenses and less parking, for instance. But maybe, in terms of the city's overall health, boutique is the way to go, plugging gaps until condo financing returns?
[ABOVE: The former One Museum Place vision, scrapped for a much smaller project. Image: skyscraperpage.com]