Riverfront party mansion slapped with injunction

Riverfront party mansion slapped with injunction
The Tuscan River Estate, 4424 Kelnepa Drive

A neighborhood dispute between the owners of a riverfront estate and other residents on a quiet street in Miramar may be drawing to a close with an order by a Circuit Court judge to stop using the property as a destination rental.

The Tuscan River Estate, 4424 Kelnepa Drive, has been marketed as “a premier destination” listed on the Historic Registry, though no mention of it is found on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Stepping onto the property is like being immediately in Tuscany, Italy,” according to its website, tuscanriverestate.com. The four-bedroom Mediterranean estate, built on the St. Johns River in 1924, has a dock, swimming pool, steam room, Jacuzzi, summer kitchen and, according to its website, has been decorated with $1 million in imported furnishings. The cost: $650 a weekend night, plus a 13 percent resort tax and $425 cleaning fee, for up to 10 persons.

Until recently, it also was marketed on the HomeAway website, attracting weddings and parties and headaches for the neighbors, who complained to the City of Jacksonville about traffic issues and property damage on the short dead-end street.

The City investigated and found that Tuscan River Estate LLC was violating the zoning code and the fire code by using a single-family dwelling for “assembly occupancy” (space used for at least 50 people) by marketing it for “short-term rental for social activities,” according to court records.

Estate manager Michael Johnigean protested that they weren’t breaking any laws.

“This has been so unfair. This is mostly for people who come in from out of town. They’re nice people who can pay this kind of rent. It’s a $3.5 million home. It’s not cheap,” Johnigean told The Resident last summer. “If people want to have a party, that’s their business as long as they’re not bothering the neighbors.”

In February, the City sought and was granted a permanent injunction.

“They didn’t show up at the hearing or have a representative,” said Allan Biatts, who has lived next door to the estate since 1999.

Biatts said he’s been told that someone from the estate asked that it be allowed to hold two more weddings. After those events, Tuscan River Estate will be allowed to continue to rent the mansion for overnight guests, but the rental period has to be at least seven days.

“I’m hoping this resolves it now that a judge has said you can’t do this,” Biatts said.

Although Johnigean ceased to accept calls from The Resident after publishing a story in the September 2017 issue, The Resident reached out for comment but there was no response.

By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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