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Actual Factual DeKalb: What's with the rundown tower at Spaghetti Junction?

OK, y’all. This might be a little awkward, but we’re going to get through it together. Let me explain: A few weeks back, I arrived at The AJC to cover DeKalb County. Boss says I should write this column called “Actual Factual DeKalb.”

The idea is you folks send questions and I run down the answers. Then I write the column, which you love and share with all your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Or mail it to your Uncle Bill. He loves this kind of stuff and it would mean so much to hear from you. Anyhow, the problem of the first column is, I'm forced to ask myself a question, as my esteemed colleague Tyler Estep did in his Gwinnett column.

Humor me.

Joshua Sharpe writes: What’s with the weird rundown cylindrical tower at Spaghetti Junction?

I’ve actually wondered the same thing, brother.

I did a little digging and found out plenty. Particularly of interest is the once bumping club that operated on the ground floor.

It thrust a spotlight into the night sky, which I imagine as beaming a signal – no, a beacon of hope – to all the partiers stalled in I-285 traffic, dying to dance. Imagine them, say, in 2004, back in the heyday. Maybe 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” is playing on the Suburban stereo. 

But we’ll come back to all that. Let’s take it from the top:

The iconic 15-story tower was built back in 1973 on Presidential Parkway.

It’s gone by various names, including Presidential Hotel. Mostly recently it was the skillfully-named Presidential Boutique Condotel.

As you could probably figure out, the owners turned the hotel into condos.

Condo + hotel = condotel.

What was the problem?

Apparently, it took more complicated math to run the building.

In 2012, co-owners Habib Osta and Vincent Lu couldn’t get together on the Georgia Power bill. It went unpaid and residents were driven from their homes – homes they had ownership in because of the “condo” part of the equation.

Here came the vandals.

Rock + window = eyesore.

So what is the problem now?

Garbage litters the parking lot. The pool is scary. Used tires are piled up. I saw a decorative candleholder resting on a discarded mattress and a lone can of Febreze air freshener. Odd.

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester, who’s been vocal about her displeasure with the condition of the structure, told me she sees the place as a hazard and an embarrassment, because it sits at the “front door” to the county.

“Your front door has busted out windows,” she said.

The county has cited the property with a slew of code violations. A full inspection is planned before the court date, Sept. 13, according to an email Jester got from the fire chief.

What the owners of the building have to say is unclear. No one returned my messages.

All right, tell us about the club!

Club Europe was legendary. Rumor had it some “eastern European mafia” guys ran it. Might have been just a rumor, but it was that kind of place.

My good buddy John went once. He’s tall, redheaded and nothing like a guy you’d see in a dance club.

A family friend convinced him to change out of his “$10 Walmart pants” to go.

The scene was thick, maybe 500 people crammed inside.

“There were four cages, girls dancing in the cages,” John remembers. “Just really, really going to town.”

A strange woman approached him and danced. Then she left. The night slipped by. It's mostly unmemorable.

Others were bigger fans of Club Europe.

But reviews were certainly mixed.

Just look what happened to Yelper Bryon H. of Chamblee.“Went there and the club was totally dead,” he wrote on the site. “Bar was torn apart and looked like it wasn't even open, total bummer. The dance floor was totally busted and covered in broken glass.”

— I am a staff writer with the AJC and a proud DeKalb County resident. To submit “Actual Factual DeKalb” questions, contact me at joshua.sharpe@ajc.com, @JoshuaWSharpe on Twitter or via the form below.

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