Rich People Are Hedging Against Doomsday

Survivalist luxury condos are a hot real estate investment for the wealthy who want to survive doomsday.

What does it tell us about the times we live in that people are putting down millions of dollars for luxury living quarters—complete with stored food and water—buried in a decommissioned missile silo?

heavy doors

From the Wall Street Journal: “For Sale: Renovated Luxury Condo; Can Survive Nuclear Attack.”

When Tyler Allen agreed to fork over $3 million in cash for a luxury condominium near Concordia, Kan., he wasn’t attracted by the indoor swimming pool, 17-seat movie theater, or hydroponic vegetable garden.

The real selling point of the 1,820-square-foot apartment: It will be buried 174 feet underground in a decommissioned missile silo sturdy enough to withstand a nuclear attack.

Mr. Allen, a 45-year-old Orlando, Fla., sports bar and nightclub owner, insists he isn’t a “tinfoil hat-wearing” type preparing for the end of the world.

Rather, he cites growing security threats—such as a global health pandemic, cataclysmic weather and terror attacks.

“There’s a Camp David for the president,” he says. “If you’re at a certain level where you can afford it, you can get that, too.”

The so-called Survival Condo complex boasts full and half-floor units that cost $1.5 million to $3 million each. The building can accommodate up to 75 people, and buyers include doctors, scientists and entrepreneurs, says developer Larry Hall.

Mr. Hall, who lives in a Denver suburb, bought his first missile-silo site in Kansas in 2008 and completed construction in December 2012. A year later, he says, the development had sold out. Work on the second security compound—the one where Mr. Allen bought a unit—is under way, and Mr. Hall says he is considering additional sites in Texas and elsewhere.

As former nuclear missile sites built under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers, the structures were originally designed to withstand a direct hit by a nuclear bomb. At ground level, they can be sealed up by two armored doors weighing 16,000 pounds each. Mr. Hall added sophisticated water and air-treatment facilities, state-of-the-art computer network technology and several alternate power generation capabilities.

The projects tap into an undercurrent of angst among some affluent folks that has persisted since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The global financial crisis and now the possible dangers posed by the Ebola virus and the rise of Islamic State have fueled their safety concerns.

[See also, “Can We Please Get off the End of the World Kick.”]

If these were being bought by lottery winners, I wouldn’t care so much. But it seems that these are being purchased by people who show they know how to be careful with their investments. So what makes these underground luxury bomb shelters such a great investment?