For $6 million, one wealthy home shopper can buy some pandemic peace of mind in the form of a decked-out survival compound on a Whidbey Island bluff.
The 59-acre property, just north of Lake Hancock on Whidbey’s western coast, spans three densely wooded parcels. The residence has bullet-resistant walls, a safe room and an underground escape tunnel to the woods. A massive concrete tank holds 17,000 gallons of propane. In the 9,000-square-foot shop, three shipping containers are stocked with emergency supplies that can be supplemented by the huge, adjacent working farm.
“Toilet paper is hard to find. But there’s a lot of it there,” said listing agent Forbes Hansen. A video for the listing shows TP piled to the ceiling.
There’s also plenty of what an anxious prepper may want more than anything: Secrecy. The property listing doesn’t include an address, and Hansen said he plans to “find a buyer for this place and then terminate its existence from the internet.” (This article, presumably, does not serve that mission.)
The compound, owned by former PetSmart CEO W.R. “Ford” Smith II, according to public records, was “built to withstand a worst-case scenario,” Hansen said. Construction started in the early 2000s, but Smith only began stockpiling in earnest after 2008’s global financial crisis, he said.
So why sell it now, as COVID-19 cases are spiking? Smith is moving to Idaho to be closer to family, and plans to build a similar facility there, Hansen said.
The outbreak of the pandemic saw many wealthier city-dwellers flee to remote islands, rural areas and less densely populated suburbs. While some reportedly traveled to New Zealand, others stayed closer to home. Rich New Yorkers moved to the Adirondacks and the Hamptons; Silicon Valley entrepreneurs relocated to Napa or Lake Tahoe. King County residents have headed to Idaho, Montana and rural Oregon in greater numbers than before.
Locally, the San Juan Islands have seen a major uptick in new, ultrawealthy residents during the coronavirus, real estate sales show. The number of homes sold for over $1 million in the islands is on track to nearly triple by the end of the year, compared to 2019, the San Juan Islander reported last month.