U.S. Markets closed

Nuclear missile bunker: yours for less than $400k

Amanda Holpuch in New York

One local newspaper described the sales listing, with calculated understatement, as a “mid-century fixer-upper”: an underground bunker built to withstand a nuclear attack, and to house the fire power to retaliate.

The decommissioned nuclear silo in southern Arizona was once home to the Titan II, the largest intercontinental ballistic missile deployed by the US Air Force.

The silo’s owner, Rick Ellis, told the Arizona Daily Star newspaper that he was selling the property because he’s “bored”.

Ellis said he originally bought the silo to turn into a commercial data storage center because it is shielded from electromagnetic pulses that can scramble electronics, but his plans were waylaid by the economic recession. So far, he said he has rejected serious offers from a buyer who wanted to turn it into a greenhouse for medical marijuana and another who planned to use it as a porn studio.

The threshold to tour the property is much higher than for a typical open house. Interested buyers must prove they have the money to cover the $395,000 cost and sign a liability waiver before descending a 40ft staircase into the bunker to tour the property.

“Private yet not too remote,” says the listing for the property, which includes more than 12 acres of desert.

There are 18 decommissioned nuclear silos which surround Tucson and were operational from June 1963 into the 1980s. They were on alert to launch, or respond, to nuclear attacks with the Titan II missiles, which carried warheads with nine megatons of explosive power – the equivalent to a yield 600 times that of “Little Boy”, the bomb dropped over Hiroshima.

When the bunkers were decommissioned, the government demolished them, filled them with rubble and sealed the entrances with concrete.

Ellis took on a major excavation after purchasing the property, which still includes some original equipment such as floor-to-ceiling springs which isolated each level of the basement from seismic shocks and signs revealing the bunker’s designated smoking area.

Premier Media Group created a 3D tour of the bunker which showcases pools of stagnant water and the 6,000lb blast door which can be closed with one hand.

For those who can’t provide the paperwork necessary to tour the property, realtors Grant Hampton and Kori Ward recommend a visit to the nearby Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona, which is inside a decommissioned silo.