Fallout shelters have been around since the Second World War, as rising fears of an international nuclear exchange drove much of the population underground, digging atomic shelters in backyards and community centers across America and around the world. Today’s variety is a bit more sophisticated, and this new breed of survivalist structures is attracting some wealthy clientele.
Several companies have sprung up in the last few decades with somewhat of a niche focus – fully contained, self-sustaining (and increasingly luxurious) bunkers to ride out whatever ecological, economic, or interstellar disaster may befall the human race. Sales have jumped more than 70 percent in the last few years alone. From $200,000 to $2 million, these underground resorts often come complete with wine cellars, pool areas, and defense networks.
The motivation for this kind of investment varies from consumer to consumer. Some fear the collapse of the economic order, or a fiery end to the experiment of fiat money. Others worry about ecological collapse and changing climates. Some still point to international tensions and the spread of nuclear weaponry. A growing number even cite 2012 apocalyptic prophecies, claiming that any number of celestial events (galactic alignment, coronal mass ejections, gravity wells, etc.) may wreak havoc for Earth’s delicate ecosystem and even more fragile human civilization.
Many such bunkers already are in place across the States and around the world. Washington, D.C. is home to dozens of official shelters beneath corporate offices and federal buildings, and cities like Shanghai have incorporated survival compounds directly into their infrastructure. Several companies even buy outdated or delinquent government shelters to refurbish and sell back to preparation-minded consumers.
The growing market mirrors an increase in rumored clandestine government projects similar to Cheyenne Mountain and growing conspiracy theories surrounding the Denver Airport and rural stretches of the American mid-west. Vivos, a California based company, boasts at least five survival co-ops for up to 200 people each, with reservations for $5,000 and accommodations for $25,000. The Survival Condo project, founded by Florida engineer Larry Hall, offers 15-floor compounds complete with hydroponics, a theater, classrooms and more. The price tag for half a floor? $2 million, with another $2 million for the entire level. For those with means and some serious risk-aversion, these properties will continue to attract – and sell.