March 21, 2013 at 11:01 AM ET
There was little to no chance a bomb would be dropped in Fort Pierce, Fla. in 1967 during the Cold War. But that didn't stop 30-inch-thick steel-reinforced concrete from being poured in the middle of St. Lucie County.
The result was a bomb shelter designed to keep people alive for 30 days. Now it's on the market for $499,500 and attracting all kinds of buyers — many who hope to make it the ultimate man cave.
"It's something out of an old Japanese Godzilla movie," said Hoyt C. Murphy Jr., the listing agent for the property. "It was built to withstand the big blast."
Unlike a fallout shelter that protects from radioactive debris, the main purpose of the building was to protect from shock waves and overpressure. Upon entering the bunker, decontamination showers greet visitors and lead into a massive room with 17-foot-high ceilings.
Murphy says the original design plans were recently discovered, showing how the property was rigged with 200-kilowatt generators, massive air-intake tunnels and a custom ventilation system to be used in the face of disaster. Even though the property was vandalized after it was abandoned as a bomb shelter in the '80s, there are still remnants of the Cold War era, such as canned sugar and milk solids.
"It has a lot of unique characteristics," he said. "It's a piece of history."
While the nearly six-acre property lends itself to commercial uses such as storing an antique car collection, Murphy thinks there is a 50-50 chance the buyer will convert the property into a residential home.
He recently hosted a "meet-up" for South Florida Survivalists, a preppers group focused on self-reliance in the face of hurricanes, economic uncertainty, pandemic or nuclear proliferation. While the shelter was built to withstand an atomic bomb, Murphy says it would stand strong in the face of a hurricane — an attractive selling point for South Floridians.
One interested survivalist brought in an architect to determine how feasible it would be to convert the stakeout into a livable space.
While the architect was reportedly enamored with the space, Murphy reiterated that this would not be your average home renovation project.
"It will be interesting to see who buys the space," he said. "To turn it into a home, they will have to be creative and have deep pockets."
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