A third of the people in the state construction industry lost their jobs in the recession-induced building freeze. So any sign of new work should be good news--even if it's for crazies. USA Today reports new, wide-spread interest in "Doomsday shelters." These are Cold-War evoking fiberglass or concrete structures that can hide your family for up to five years below ground, away from terrorists, nuclear blasts, and socialism. Apparently sales have never been better and one local real estate agent is getting in on the action.According to USA Today, Seattle agent Dan Hotes is selling space in enormous shelters created by the San Diego-based developer Vivos. Up to 200 people can hide in one of the company's planned network of shelters, which boast everything from lounges and exercise equipment to dental care. Adults get in at the price of $50,000, kids for $25,000.
Hotes didn't respond to a request for comment earlier today. But if the Vivos website is any indication of the company's target market, the ideal customer is paranoid bordering on insane and/or a John Cusack fan.
Vivos helpfully keeps a doomsday clock running on the site on the assumption the world will end on December 21, 2012. Links on the homepage direct you to prophecies predicting as much and offer terrifying videos portraying exactly how the world might go in massive earthquakes or a giant volcanic explosion. The company also argues that you can't depend on the government to save you because, as we learned from the Cusack movie 2012, rich assholes will make it into federal shelters first.
Coming soon to an undisclosed location near you.
Vivos plans to build 20 shelters at unspecified locations throughout the United States, including one near Seattle. The exact locations are kept secret for security reasons.
Sure it might seem a little absurd and manipulative, but carpenters need jobs, so why not cater to the whims of fear-prone people with $50,000 to spend?
Hotes called to say that he isn't sure exactly how many people have purchased space as he's no longer doing direct sales, but "we've taken hundreds of paid applications."
And not all customers are driven by Mayan prophesies about the world ending in 2012, Hotes says. Some just fear an enormous solar flare might knock out the electricity grid leading to anarchy. Others worry that the recession will only get worse, leaving grocery store shelves empty. "You just never know what's going to be next," Hotes says.
We can't buy shelter space in Seattle yet, he notes. Vivos hasn't identified a place to put a shelter and the permitting process in Washington is extremely cumbersome, he says, though he still wants to open a location here. Hotes says that just yesterday he got a call from a group of people in Yelm.