OPINION: Buckhead Estate party poopers — they’re all Shook up

A mansion converted to a de-facto party house in Buckhead has drawn ire of neighbors and has spurred Atlanta Councilman Howard Shook to propose a ban on short-term -rentals in single family communities. Photo contributed by neighbor

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Short-term rentals of mansion a neighborhood nightmare that councilman aims to end

I guess it takes just one too many topless pool parties to ruin things for everyone.

The wild bash — advertised as the “Biggest topless pool party ever!” — was held May 23 at the Buckhead Estate, a mansion near Lenox Mall touted as “Buckhead’s Premier event space.”

“Estate” is a misnomer. The term evokes images of a stately brick manor and rolling greenery. This, however, is an 11,000-square-foot, 11-bathroom behemoth with an indoor pool and hot tub surrounded by concentric levels of rooms and squeezed onto a lot on a busy road.

It’s a house with a history: It was built by a developer/diplomat with bribery in his past, occupied by a rapper who’s had financial issues, and then owned most recently by a family in the strip club biz looking for a side hustle. In a way, the property is a quintessential Atlanta Saga.

And now the house at 3511 Roxboro Road threatens to slam the burgeoning short-term-rental market because it has generated more calls to police than Animal House gave Dean Wormer headaches. There have been more than 90 such calls to the cops so far this year, about three dozen of them noise complaints.

One neighbor within range of the 3 a.m. window-rattling music is Atlanta Councilman Howard Shook. He and his neighbors in the well-to-do community are beyond fed up, and Shook said he will introduce legislation to unplug the party.

His proposed ordinance, he said, “is going to deem short-term-rentals an illegal use in single-family residential areas.”

A party held in May advertised as the "Biggest topless pool party ever!" is one of many bashes drawing the ire of neighbors and threatens to ban short-term-rentals in residential neighborhoods. TMZ photo

Credit: TMZ

Credit: TMZ

Shook considered a proposal last year to limit and license short-term rentals as the Super Bowl approached but held off because he didn’t want to impact homeowners who were making cash by renting out their mini-estates.

Governments across the country have regulated, licensed and taxed short-term rentals in response to neighbors’ complaints and their own worries that the new business platform steals tax revenue. Airbnb, the industry leader, has tried to fend off such unpleasantness by banning problem properties. Last month, Airbnb removed 50 “party houses” in Atlanta from its listings, saying owners of those houses violated company rules and had received previous warnings.

Airbnb sent me a statement saying the vast majority of hosts are responsible and “a blanket ban would hurt thousands of local families who depend on the income they earn hosting to help pay the bills. We are committed to working with the City of Atlanta to reasonably address quality of life issues, while preserving property rights for residents.”

City Council President Felicia Moore is not sure Shook’s ban will gain traction on the council. “I think he’s throwing a wide net and it will be a discussion starter,” she said.

Shook noted that “re-election is breaking out (next year), so people have their fingers into the wind.”

The Roxboro estate was built in 2000, Shook said, “by a serial code violator who had been convicted on bribery charges.” That would be Ramsey Agan, a now-deceased honorary Turkish consul and mortgage banker who played hard, if not sometimes under the table, in the development game.

In 1982, he pleaded guilty to making false statements to influence a bank. Three years later, in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about the hard-nosed process of getting stuff built, he complained that he spent $70,000 in legal fees trying unsuccessfully to get a high-rise complex built in Perimeter Center. “I’m still so bitter about that, I can’t see,” he said, vowing to never develop in Atlanta again.

He didn’t mean it. In 1988, Agan was convicted of attempted bribery for campaign “contributions” to two DeKalb County commissioners.

After his death in 2013, the Roxboro home was purchased by real estate investors who said they spent $2 million renovating the place. After the spruce-up, a 2015 Business Journal story listed it as the most expensive rental home in Georgia at $21,000 a month.

A marketing pic peddling the Buckhead Estate, a party house on Roxboro Road that has neighbors in a tizzy. Atlanta Councilman Howard Shook wants to ban short-term-rentals in residential neighborhoods. Photo from Facebook

Credit: Photo from Facebook

Credit: Photo from Facebook

In September 2016, an Atlanta fellow named Jeffrey L. Williams, aka the rapper Young Thug, purchased the home for $2.75 million, according to tax records. However, he got hit by a lawsuit six months later for allegedly being late on his $2.2 million balloon payment. It’s an expensive proposition being a rapper with all the bling, ladies and tossed cash in the air at nightclubs. A year later, a Buckhead jeweler sued, alleging Young Thug owed $115,000 for merchandise including a $30,000 Rolex, a $20,000 Cartier bracelet and a $30,000 diamond wallet chain. He claims the jeweler hoodwinked him and the parties later settled.

Finally, Young Thug escaped the headache of debt and sold the estate in June 2019 to Alexander and Carmen Popovitch for $1.8 million, according to tax records.

Carmen Popovitch is CEO of two strip clubs and CFO of another. (Alexander is her son, say police reports. I, just like the cops, have had a hard time reaching them.) And while strip clubs are money-generators, the Roxboro money pit needed feeding. Property taxes approach $60,000 a year and that’s before paying to disinfect and heat the hot tub.

So, the Popovitches seemingly came up with a plan for cash flow — renting out the house at $2,000-plus a night.

Police say the mansion was rented out on Airbnb at least 20 times since last September. Airbnb says the Roxboro Road home was removed from its “platform.”

The indoor pool/hot tub room of a home on Roxboro Road in Buckhead that has drawn numerous complaints for loud parties. Real estate listing photo

Credit: Real estate listing photo

Credit: Real estate listing photo

The cops had been looking to serve the Popovitches with complaints since January. The police file on the house is thick, replete with reports of cops knocking on the door of the booming abode at all hours and getting hazy responses from those opening the door. Guests pay $30 entry and cops say it operates as a nightclub, sometimes strippers included.

The younger Popovitch has been arrested, as has a lady described as his girlfriend. But the parties continued even after handcuffs were applied.

“They run two or three strip clubs; they know how to operate in and out of the law and have a high pain point,” said Shook, who added that Young Thug was a relative sweetheart as a neighbor. “I tell the neighbors to keep at it, keep complaining. Eventually, they’ll move on.”

The house has been listed for sale since May for $3.5 million.

“What’s going to be there next?” asked Shook. “The Brady Bunch?”

Cindy? Jan? Marcia, Marcia, Marcia? Are you listening?

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