The Nervous Elite Are Upgrading Their Homes With State-Of-The-Art Panic Rooms

In a world growing seemingly less stable by the week, high real estate now comes with a new amenity—a panic room.

By Jeff Vasishta February 7, 2017

Rich Americans have a lot to be afraid about these days. It’s no wonder the latest trend in upscale home renovations is a half-million dollar “panic room.” A concrete, kevlar- and steel-enforced escape hatch from bullets, nukes and nasty neighbors. Bio defense with HEPA filtration systems, back-up generators and state-of-the art communication systems are turning residential pads into military grade Pentagon style bunkers—with the interior design panache of the Ritz Carlton.

Not all panic rooms are built alike. In Ecor, Texas, 70 miles North East of Dallas, Mansion Global reports that Trident Lakes, a 700-acre resort style development currently under construction, will appeal to the truly neurotic. It’s marketed as a “a luxury doomsday village.” The design calls for a navigable tunnel, an air-purification system, a security wall, off-grid power system as well as a golf course, spa, rifle range and polo field. It may be the first but not last time you’ll hear the words “luxury” and “doomsday” next to one another.

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In New York, safe rooms in townhouses are obviously more compact. New Yorkers, it turns out, are not so concerned with invading hordes from south of the border. Home invasions, too, are unlikely—given the neighborhoods in which the 0.01 percent live. It’s dirty bombs that got them rattled.

“The whole idea of New York being locked down in an emergency scares them,” Tom Gaffney, CEO of Gaffco Ballistics, a Vermont company that installs bullet-resistant systems, armor and safe rooms, told AM New York.

In Texas, as evidenced by the “luxury doomsday” resort, civil unrest and deep distrust of their fellow Americans has got bunker buyers spooked. “People are more worried about what their neighbor is going to do than what a nuclear war will do,” said Gary Lynch, operations manager for Rising S Bunkers in Texas. About 90 percent of his customers are most afraid of civil unrest, rioting, and an eruption of lawlessness that could lead to looting, murder, kidnapping and rape, Lynch said.

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One sector of society which does have a valid reason for panic or safe rooms are celebrities. In recent years, stalkers have created harrowing scenarios, trespassing onto the properties of Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock, David Letterman, Selena Gomez and Gwyneth Paltrow among others. The October Paris jewelry heist of Kim Kardashian has, apparently, hastened her decision to start building a state-of-the-art panic room in their $20-million Bel-Air mansion.

“Although a panic room can be used for another purpose, some buyers might be interested in having it there,” celebrity broker Dolly Lenz, who currently has two listings with panic rooms in the West Village, told Mansion Global.

For the other 99.9 percent, there’s always a deadbolt and ADT.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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