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$14.7M Georgia 'safe house' with bat cave, waterfall headed to auction block

It took six years to build, but the Rice House Atlanta, a luxury home in North Fulton County, Georgia, was more than 60 years in the making. 

The $14.7 million36,000-square-foot compound in the Country Club of the South was created by a self-made, octogenarian entrepreneur who wanted to build a home that embodied all of his boyhood dreams. 

Now, it’s going to be sold at auction

>> On AJC.com: Usher sells Alpharetta mansion with climate-controlled treehouse, yoga studio for $1.5M

According to a Concierge Auctions news release, bidding will begin Tuesday and close Thursday. The starting bid is $3.9 million. So, what do you get for that price?

A bat cave? Yes. Waterfall? Sure. Secret entrances and exits? You bet. Upper and lower motor courts? Um-hum. And the art museum, infinity pool, bowling alley, gun range, game room, solarium, spa, theater and play area that resembles something from Disneyland. 

>> See more photos here

“He is an intellectual thinker and he is a super fun guy,” listing broker Paul Wegener, of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, said about the homeowner. “He dreamed as a child of building something like this. All these things you think about when you are a kid,” Wegener said. 

The homeowner had planned to fill the eight bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, six partial bathrooms and three kitchens with family and friends. He had hoped the home would become a gathering place and a legacy for his family to pass from one generation to the next. 

>> Previously on MyAJC.com: Atlanta’s safest house still up for sale at $14.7 million

He was holding onto the home but ultimately, other priorities won out. His son wasn’t much interested in living there, and with much of his family on the West Coast, the homeowner decided to sell his $30 million project. 

In building a home that would last forever and survive any foreseeable catastrophe, he sought out and worked with a team of the best architects, landscapers and security experts in the country. 

The process began with a full-scale model, and as construction continued, the homeowner added different features that seemed cool. “He would say, ‘We’ve got more room. I want to add a gun range and a bowling alley.’ The scope of the project continued to grow,” Wegener said. 

Atlanta architect Charles Heydt brought to life the homeowner’s vision of the Greek acropolis. Whatever standards were set by building code, the home was made to meet at least triple those requirements. The foundation was dug to the rock bed, anchored with rebar and poured with concrete that can withstand 5,000 pounds of load per square inch. The exterior walls have the same level of strength. 

>> See the listing here

Al Corbi, a renowned security expert, came in to make sure the security features of the home were part of the construction process. Reinforced walls, bulletproof windows and doors, concealed entrances and exits and an underground bunker are just a few of the features that make Rice House one of the safest homes in the country. 

The home is also self-contained, and projections indicate that inhabitants could survive for three years on the property without outside assistance, Wegener said. 

There are three water sources : municipal, three 1,000-foot-deep artesian wells and a reserve tank of purified water that would normally be used for irrigation on the property and for topping off the pool and fountain. 

Wegener was initially skeptical about the need for a house with such high-level security features, but then he thought about events such as 9/11. 

>> On AJC.com: Here's what an ‘average’ house looks like in Georgia

“You almost don’t like to say survival, but suddenly it doesn’t become that far-fetched. He was forward-thinking,” Wegener said. 

It takes about 2 1/2 hours for Wegener to walk prospective buyers through the property. And yes, there have been prospective buyers. 

But who, other than an owner with a vision, would want a property such as this one? Maybe it could be a safe house for board members or executives of a major international corporation or a family haven for another successful entrepreneur in a high-risk industry. 

So far, inquiries have been coming from outside and within the country. The security of the home has proved to be the biggest draw, along with the level of detail that went into designing the home, Wegener said. 

There have also been some curiosity seekers who are clearly not serious buyers. 

“The serious interest comes from the same crowd,” Wegener said. “This particular project is the cream of the crop for the amount of money spent and the degree of security.” 

>> Read more trending news 

While the home is complete, the finishing touches have been left to the whims of the new owner. Wegener says it is the most unique home he has ever dealt with and it is important to him to find just the right buyer. 

“There are homes (in Atlanta) that are beautiful but were never constructed to this level of complexity,” Wegener said. “It was not just meant to be a massive compound. It was important to him to construct this property that would be enjoyable. It was ultimately for family and these other things were layered in. I am trying to find someone that will appreciate all of that.”

For more information on the property ahead of the auction, visit conciergeauctions.com/upcoming-auctions.

Photos: Inside Oprah’s new $8.2M home on Orcas Island

Oprah Winfrey purchased a 43-acre estate on Orcas Island in Washington for $8.275 million.

College students create app making it easier to track diabetes

When it comes to diabetes, the numbers are staggering -- 30 million Americans are estimated to be living with the disease, 1.4 million new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States and about 25 percent of those patients don’t know they have the disease.

Those numbers caught the attention of some Harvard students who came up with an easy way for people to track their blood sugar levels.

>> Read more trending news 

It’s an app called Checkmate Diabetes.

Harvard graduate student Michael Heisterkamp is part of the team developing the app and is also a diabetes patient. 

“You need to check 4-5 times a day, up to eight times a day, depending on what your doctor recommends, and that can be a bit of a grind," Heisterkamp said.

All those tests are essential for a person with diabetes because they need to make sure they’re in a safe range.

Dr. Jason Sloane, an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said ‘the biggest problem is, once complications hit, it’s very hard to reverse them.”

Harvard senior Emi Gonzales got the idea for the app when there was a guest speaker in a class.

“He had lost his leg and was about to lose his other leg," Gonzales said. "And I talked to some more people with diabetes and this just seemed like a situation that needed fixing.”

The app makes a game out of tracking blood sugar levels, creating competitions within a person’s network. 

“If you have a scoring system and someone is doing better than you, pushing you, you know you want to get to first right," Gonzales said.

Checkmate Diabetes also offers the ability to connect with other patients.

Soon, they’ll start adding prizes.

Sloan, who has consulted with the budding entrepreneurs, said gamification has been shown to work for health care.

He believes this approach can get people to pay attention to diabetes earlier. 

“It has the potential to change things dramatically,” Sloan said. “Convincing young people, from my experience, has been very difficult. Even from a personal perspective, one of the last things I wanted to pay attention to was my blood sugar.”

Dr. Sloan said earlier interventions can reduce serious complications like kidney failure, amputations, and heart disease later in life.

Checkmate Diabetes is free to download.

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Lance Armstrong's former Austin home on the market for $7.5 million

Want to live in Lance Armstrong’s old house?

>> See a video slideshow of the home here

The cyclist’s former home in west Austin, Texas, is on the market for $7.5 million. According to CultureMap, it was originally listed two years ago for $8.25 million.

>> On Austin360.com: See a photo gallery of the home

The six-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom home across the street from Pease Park was built in 1924 and has since been remodeled. The 8,158-square-foot home has a pool with a fountain, a pool house with a full bathroom and kitchenette and a covered outdoor living area.

>> Read more trending news 

Read more here.

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