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Bomb Shelter Boom Sees Underground Pools, Basketball Courts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The latest real estate boom to sweep America comes with all the trappings of luxurious living: custom-built swimming pools, gyms, full-length basketball courts and even airplane hangars. The only catch is that this time, the features are all buried underground.

The boom in bomb shelter sales over the past 15 years has taken the spartan 1950s notion of a fallout shelter and given it a makeover, according to the owners of three companies that make and sell shelters.

Now, custom installations can create 100,000-square foot underground dwellings that could hold dozens of people for months or years.

"You can have all your major amenities: TV, high power and high voltage (appliances)... horticulture rooms where you can grow vegetables and gardens, a full shower, all the amenities of your full home. We're not limiting what people can do," said Brad Roberson, marketing director for Rising S Company, which builds and installs custom shelters.

The basic requirements that most owners want in a shelter include air filtration systems to protect from nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, ventilation systems and a toilet system, as well as blast-proof and fallout-proof casing on the outside, he and other makers told ABC News.

But in addition to that, shelters can have "secret doors, hidden passageways, panic rooms, bulletproof glass," running water, toilets, showers and electricity, according to Roberson.

"Budget and imagination are the only limits," he said.

A bunker on the small side of 10 feet by 20 feet starts at about $54,000.  They go up from there to $10 million, Roberson said.

In the past 15 years, companies that make and sell underground bunkers have sprouted up around the country, mainly in the West and South, according to the founders of three companies.

"I think probably around the year 2000 we started seeing quite an increase in sales," said Sharon Packer, co-owner of Utah Shelter Systems in Draper, Utah.  Her company installs shelters made out of 10-foot wide concrete pipes linked together to create rooms six feet underground.

"People were concerned about the very real issue of possible effects on our computers.  'Y2K' started the upsurge, and for 13 years it's been a good steady business," Packer said.  "After 9/11 we had a big surge in the East, in New York."

Recently, fears of a nuclear armed Iran or North Korea have stoked the fear that a nationwide disaster would force residents to retreat to safety underground, to wait out nuclear fallout or social instability, Packer and others said.

"It's sad to say, the worse the state of affairs get, our government gets, the closer we see these policies the government is forcing down our throats, and foreign threats as well.  It inflames peoples' desire to give themselves a retreat," Roberson said.

"People are awakening to the threat," Packer said.  "A lot of it is the terrorist attacks, a lot of it is the economy.  People are concerned about having a government failure.  Some of it is Earth changes."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio