Aug. 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM ET
A certain segment of the population likes to be prepared for the worst, and for certain doomsday scenarios decommissioned underground nuclear missile silos are the ultimate hideout.
Despite this, there are government-constructed nuke-proof bunkers, some of the strongest structures made by man, that have lingered on the market without selling, and their prices have been slashed.
One bunker, for example, has had its price slashed from $4.6 million to $750,000.
Interested in more? This website has many others listed for sale as well. Truth be told, some of these sale-priced bunkers are fixer-uppers. But on the plus side, once all the basics are set up and supplies are stockpiled, if you ever do need to escape disaster, there will be plenty of time to work on home improvements in your bunker.
For the negotiable price of $399,000, you can also buy an Atlas F missile base in central Kansas on eBay. “Negotiable” is not to say owner Jeff Flaningam will sell at clearance-rack prices. There are currently four declined offers on the listing, but Flaningam indicated he may consider a partial trade of a yacht plus cash.
Flaningam, the 37-year-old co-owner of Veritas Forge, a small product development company, bought his silo about three years ago. He was intrigued by decommissioned nuclear missile sites for years and says they’re like having the world's toughest fort. He is the third owner of his site since the Air Force moved out.
“Most of these sites were decommissioned between 1962 — '65; from that point on some of them sat before they were salvaged out,” Flaningam said, adding that most of the first owners of these silos were salvagers who were after the steel, copper wiring and other materials used in their construction. The silo he owns was first purchased around 1970, Flaningam said.
Since taking ownership, he has spent a lot of time working on the demolition of structural features as well as pumping out more than 90 feet of water that accumulated in the silo over the years. (Water is no longer entering, and the command center and tunnels are not flooded.) He’s not a local resident and so he’s done all his work during regular two-week trips he makes from his Wisconsin home. He travels to the site several times a year and also spends long weekends there from time to time.
Flaningam shows the site to interested potential buyers during these visits for a $1,000 nonrefundable fee, which he says weeds out the sightseers and helps to cover his travel costs. The fee can go toward the purchase price if the viewer ends up buying the property.
The last owner was absentee, said Flaningam, and because the original door rotted out, trespassers were able to get in and mark up some of the walls with graffiti. Flaningam has a new hydraulic door weighing around 3,000 pounds, but because it’s not installed yet, he welds the entrance shut every time he leaves.
The demolition effort is substantial, Flaningam says, but most of the demolition work is already done. “Once you’re done, it’s a shell where you bring in your wiring, and it’s not a lot different from finishing off [a traditional house].
“It’s a giant basement, basically. In the late ’50s, early ’60s it cost the taxpayers $15 million to build [each of] these giant basements.”
Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $130 million in today’s dollars. Suddenly $399,000 for an underground fixer-upper doesn’t seem quite so steep.
If the bunker doesn’t sell, Flaningham is open to investor opportunities, or else he will develop the command center into “extremely high-security luxury condos," and later develop the missile silo into more condos.
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