Home Business A Boom Time for the Bunker Business and Doomsday Capitalists – The New York Times

A Boom Time for the Bunker Business and Doomsday Capitalists – The New York Times

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The site had initially held an Atlas-F missile, an intercontinental weapon with a warhead hundreds of times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. The missiles, built and buried around 1960, lasted only five years in their hide-outs before they were removed and converted into space rocket launchers, or scrapped entirely. The military had decided to replace them with more sophisticated missiles and abandon the bunkers. The Air Force eventually turned the empty vaults over to the General Services Administration, which auctioned them off to civilians.

The Survival Condo vault, which cost the military millions to build, was sold to a civilian in 1967 for $3,030 and passed through several owners before making it to Mr. Hall.

(Today, officials use websites like gsaauctions.gov to sell unwanted government property. Receiving bids recently: a commercial dryer from NASA, for $100; a painting of Old Tbilisi, for $150; and a parcel of a missile site in Wyoming, for $3,000.)

It cost Mr. Hall $20 million to remodel what was in fact a hole in the ground, money he raised from pre-sale of the units. Because few banks issue loans for bunkers, his clients financed their apartments themselves, wiring him the cash.

More recently, he has purchased a second Kansas vault. He mostly broke even on the initial project, he said, and swears that interest in the second one β€œis picking up.” Among the potential buyers, he said, are representatives of the Saudi Arabian military, who have asked him to draw up plans for an on-site heliport and underground mosque.

The Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment.

But build-out of the new bunker, which is three times as big as the first, now occupies most of his time. There is so much to get done, he said, and the end could come any minute.

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