The Sideshow

Giant caves once used by military now billed as best place to survive the apocalypse

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Inside the underground Vivos Survival Shelter & Resort (AP)

The weather is a constant 70 degrees F, and it never rains. The surrounding areas are ensconced in rolling hills and a lush cropping of trees.

No, it’s not an advertisement for retirement property in Florida. It’s actually the description of a giant cave carved in limestone that one man thinks would be the ideal community setting after the world ends.

"I do believe I am on a mission and doing a spiritual thing," Robert Vicino said in an interview with the Associated Press. "We will certainly be part of the genesis."

The land in question formerly served as a U.S. Army storage facility located in eastern Kansas. Local Missouri investor Coby Cullins bought the property from the government for $510,000 back in April. He then sold 75 percent of the land to Vicino, who plans to lease space to prospective post-apocalyptic residents, entitled Vivos Survival Shelter & Resort.

For those who want to purchase space in the underground dwelling, Vicino says they will be required to pay $1,000 for every square foot of space, along with $1,500 for access to a year’s supply of food. Altogether, Vicino says he has some 2 million square feet of space available.

On his website, Vicino says the location could save the lives of “nearly 1 in every 1 million people on Earth.”

“This Vivos complex will also be a year-round resort offering its co-owner members the opportunity to visit the shelter anytime they desire, 24/7,” he explains. “With a host of survival, educational and recreational activities and amenities, the Vivos Survival Shelter & Resort will be an attraction for the entire family, both above and below ground.”

Built more than 100 years ago, the enormous underground space could hold up to 5,000 people and 1,000 RVs some 150 feet below the earth’s surface. Vicino says he plans to install blast doors that could block the force of a nuclear explosion from as close as 10 miles away.

"It's quirky, and quirky gets attention," said local Chamber of Commerce president Jacque Pregont when asked about the development.

The property itself is largely nondescript; with a simple loading dock built into the mountainside that heads underground. But Vicino says the 6-foot-high chain-linked and barbed wire fencing surrounding the property would keep out potential freeloaders or other threatening individuals trying to force their way inside after an extinction-level event.

"I've heard people say, ‘I will just show up at the door,’” Vicino told the AP. “Our response is, `great, where is the door?' At our secret shelters, you don't know where to go, and your cash will be worthless at that time.”

Of course, not everyone is sold on the concept of prepping for doomsday.

"Some people are just obsessed by this idea," California State University, Chico history professor Ken Rose told the AP, "Without minimizing the terror threat here today, the threats were much greater at the height of the Cold War. At least then anxiety was based on a realistic scenario."

Nonetheless, Vicino sounds convinced the giant series of caves will become an attractive destination both before and after the world’s end.

“The ongoing resort and recreational benefits are well worth the price of co-ownership, not to mention the ability to protect your family from virtually every foreseeable future catastrophe,” he writes. “We are confident this shelter will become your resort vacation destination, year after year!”

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