TOPEKA ( TheStreet) -- Edward Peden went underground.
He and his wife, Dianna, live in a refurbished Atlas E underground missile silo site near Topeka, Kan.
You can too, by the way. Or own a golf course or run a strip club. There all sorts of unlikely living or business situations out there that people might consider, well, off the map, and buyers just have to know where to look.
The Pedens' unusual living arrangement came about more than two decades ago, when the private owner of a former missile site approached them, as real estate brokers, with a business proposition. He was moving out of state and asked their help in facilitating a sale.The Pedens arranged an "option to buy" on the property, agreed on a price and found a buyer. The deal proved unique and profitable. "We liked it," Peden says. "We began to track down the owners and begin to negotiate and hold options and sell more of these properties." That led to the formation of their company, 20th Century Castles, which specializes in this unique type of real estate, and the decision to live in one themselves. Researching the history of the bases throughout the United States, the Pedens found many had long since been decommissioned and are owned by cities, counties, school districts, water companies and a few commercial entities. Thus far, he has brokered the sale of 49 properties. These silos are proving a unique option for more than just residential properties. Jackson Heights School, a Kansas high school, is inside an Atlas E missile site built for $3.3 million in the early 1960s and abandoned in the late 1970s. The school district bought the complex for $1 from the government. The missile bay has become a bus garage, the command center transformed into a classroom. Subterranean life has its challenges -- good luck trying to use a cell phone under three feet of earth and 18 inches of reinforced concrete -- but Peden says it's worth the adjustments and maintenance challenges. "Some of them have been deserted for many years," Peden says. "Some have been flooded. The room I'm sitting in now has a one-foot ceiling height, but it had eight and a half feet of water when we purchased it. But they are million-dollar structures. The taxpayers paid billions to build these things, and they are some of the strongest structures ever built."