By John Schaffner

With the majority of new residential units in Buckhead being developed as high-rise condominiums, at least two clusters of condo properties are pursuing a new concept of being designated vertical neighborhoods to gain a voice within the city’s Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) system.

The first properties to embark on the process were the Grand View, The Oaks and The Villas, all on the south side of Peachtree Road near Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza and within close proximity of the planned

CityPlace development at Roxboro and East Paces Ferry roads.

It was the approval process through NPU-B for the CityPlace development that initiated the discussions for the vertical neighborhood designation among the three adjacent high-rise properties.

That effort has been in the works for about eight months, according to Jim Williams, one of the residents heading it up.

Recently, that effort was joined by residents in the oldest Buckhead condominium development, the Carlyle, and one of the newest, the Gallery, both of which are in the 2700 block of Peachtree Road. This second effort began within the past month, and residents are looking to other nearby condominiums that might be interested in joining them.

According to Dist. 7 Councilman Howard Shook, who has said he supports the efforts, certain criteria have to be met, which include: (1) all condos in a proposed vertical neighborhood have to be in the same City Council district; (2) all must be within the boundaries of the same NPU; (3) 75 percent of the condo unit owners in each property must agree to wanting their property represented; (4) the properties must be within close proximity of one another; (5) they must adopt an informal association with a name; and (6) they must agree to have one person represent the vertical neighborhood at the NPU.

Shook said that once all of the criteria have been met, and it is confirmed it legally meets the codified definition of a neighborhood within the city, the new neighborhood would go to the NPU with a petition requesting to become a member.

It just so happens that both of these groups of condominium properties are in Shook’s district and are within the borders of NPU-B.

If all that goes well, then the City Council likely would have to pass an ordinance changing the city’s official neighborhood map.

When the Carlyle and Gallery began discussing the concept, they included Park Place’s homeowners organization in the talks. However, they discovered Park Place was in council District 8 and therefore could not be included in their neighborhood.

Park Place may now be considering a similar arrangement with other condominium properties on the west side of Peachtree Road near West Wesley.

The Carlyle and Gallery residents are considering discussing the effort with condo properties such as The Phoenix and as far south as Park Towers. While they are not directly adjacent to one another, Shook indicated he thought that would be acceptable.

Sally Silver, NPU-B chair of the Development Committee, said she has long encouraged a system by which condominium owners could be represented within the NPU system, which now is restricted to single-family-home neighborhoods. She also indicated NPU-B chairman Jeff Shell would favor such an arrangement.

Shook, who said he collaborated informally with those heading up the effort by the Grand View, The Oaks and The Villas, said most of the residential growth in Buckhead is in high-rise condominiums, and those taxpaying residents “are entitled to a seat on the NPU.”

He said owners of condos in those properties are just as concerned about the future developments in their neighborhoods and the future values of their properties.

He suggested the one glitch may occur when the board of the NPU, which is made up of representatives of single-family neighborhoods, has to vote on whether to include the new vertical neighborhoods.