A simmering nuclear crisis, series of devastating natural disasters and a resurgence of drug-fueled crime are inspiring more Americans than ever before to buy up “doomsday prepper” gear – everything from gas masks to fallout shelters – a trend that we’ve observed time and time again.
While most Americans will need to settle for a small backyard bunker stocked with canned goods and water filters because of cost constraints, anybody looking for something slightly more stylish need look no further: A home in the Atlanta suburbs that has been described by architects as “the safest home in America” just hit the market – and it can be yours for the bargain price of $15 million.
The home, known as Rice House, is located inside a gated community in Alpharetta, Georgia, about 30 minutes northeast of central Atlanta.
The cream-colored, colonnaded facade of the Rice House, situated on 3.5 acres just outside Atlanta, hides far more than a private theater, bowling alley, and infinity swimming pool.
The master and guest bedrooms have ballistic doors that can withstand fire from an AK-47 assault rifle. The car vault is large enough to hold 30 vehicles and has an entrance designed to be concealed by a waterfall. Secret doors lead to a 15,000-square-foot bunker in which an embattled owner could conceivably hole up for years, with off-grid power and water drawn from three artesian wells drilled 1,000 feet into the ground. The house had its own security architect who spent two decades designing secure buildings for the DOJ.
Listing materials boast that it is “one of, if not the, safest home in America.”
“This is a home where you could put a $20 million painting on the wall and sleep comfortably at night,” said listing broker Paul Wegener, of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty. “The same goes for your family.”
The unnamed entrepreneur who owns Rice House spent six years and some $30 million to build the 36,000-square-foot fortress – a project that Bloomberg claims was “mostly for kicks.”
“He said to me, ‘If anyone wants to get me, they can find me at Chick-fil-A,’” the real-estate agent tasked with selling the home said. “It was something of an intellectual exercise to create an impenetrable home, a personal Batcave that the owner could peel his Bugatti Veyron out of.”
The home was just relisted for $14.7 million, a drop from the original $17.5 million. The estate also needs to be finished, a project that cost an additional $3 million to $5 million. The owner planned the Rice House as a family legacy, but decided to sell when he learned his son didn’t want to live there. The main house has been completely built, with eight bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, three kitchens, a private museum, a wine cellar, an indoor shooting range, and commercial-grade elevators.
“The mandate was the best of everything,” Wegener said. To construct the foundation, workers dug down to bedrock and then bored down into it. The walls are made from extra-strength concrete reinforced with rebar. The car vault originally was designed with 18 columns, but the owner pushed back until engineers figured out a way to use custom-made bridge beams, so no pillars would be needed to support the ceiling. The Rice House is highly energy-efficient, with geothermal heating and cooling and a solar energy system.
Though it’s not included in the listing—to maintain that hush-hush feel—the Rice House is in Country Club of the South, a location popular among athletes and other famous individuals. Retired Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine, Usher, Whitney Houston, and NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson have all lived there. The neighborhood has 19 tennis courts, an 18-hole, golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, basketball courts, a concert venue—and, of course, 24-hour security.