I’ve looked at many homes and travelled to many cities, but I’ve never seen anything like the famous Las Vegas Underground House.
Part authentic time capsule dwelling, part Doomsday bunker, part raver fantasyland, it’s a unique dwelling unlike anything else in the world.
The underground home’s price history is also unique. The original owner purchased the 1-acre lot in the 1970s. He spent an estimated $10 million excavating and building this 15,000-square-foot, Cold War-era luxury bunker about 2.5 miles from the casinos and resorts of the Las Vegas Strip.
After changing hands several times over the years, the property was rescued from foreclosure in 2015, for just $1.15 million.
In 2019, it landed on the market with an aspirational price tag of $18 million. It attracted plenty of buzz, but no viable offers materialized, and the bunker languished on the market for two years.
Earlier this year, the price was chopped by a whopping 67%. Now priced at $5.9 million, the lair may finally coax a buyer to descend and make an offer.
“The current owners realized that with the expense of maintenance and improvements, it would be best to put it back on the market at a more realistic price,” says the listing agent, Stephen LaForge of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Nevada. As a boy, LaForge rode his bike by the Las Vegas Underground House when it was being developed. Now, as an adult, he’s been representing it for several years.
He knows every nook and cranny, sight, sound and smell of this underground domestic utopia. He was also gracious enough to give me the grand tour.
When I pulled up to the property, I could tell that it was in transition.
At street level, it’s fully walled and gated. The above-ground parcel is marked by sand, shaggy palms, weeds, and a fountain in progress. There are also some noticeable air vents and a few faux-rock structures with doors, which provide stairway access to what’s below. A two-story stucco house from the 1980s is also sitting on the lot.
The above-ground house was built by the original owner’s widow in 1985, after her husband died.
That original owner was Jerry Henderson, a businessman and philanthropist who was a director of Avon Products. A noted underground living enthusiast, he sponsored an Underground Home exhibit at the New York World’s Fair. He developed his own take on residence underground in Vegas in the late 1970s.
After his passing, his widow no longer wanted to live the underground life and commissioned the two-story home on terra firma.
She opted out of the underground lair and walked away from the two-bedroom, three-bathroom subterranean home. It has plenty of fun features underground, including a pool, waterfalls, two spas, an “outdoor” barbecue, putting green, and lighting that can be customized to change in sync with the time of day.
Honestly, the above-ground home has seen better days. It’s currently divided into several apartments, one inhabited by the property’s caretaker. By the way, the list price also includes his live-in services for a full year.
I begin the descent into the Las Vegas Underground House
The elevator that takes me down to the underground home is located inside the house.
I step out into what feels like an open lobby. There’s a 12-foot ceiling, faux stone underfoot, and a well-lit glass cabinet filled with crystal-like curios and information on underground houses.
The display is prominently placed, because the current owners want to disseminate their ideas.
It’s owned by the Society for the Preservation of Near-Extinct Species, which claims that one of the current purposes of the property “is to exhibit collections of documents and memorabilia in order to preserve its historic significance as a structure that was built to exist in perpetuity … ideal for storing and exhibiting cryo-preserved biological specimens (including the DNA of near-extinct species), organs for transplant, and other biological tissue.”
Well, then. At least that explains the giant, silolike, stainless-steel cryogenic storage chamber just around the corner.
Now I began to understand the unique properties of the Las Vegas Underground House, and the potential buyers for whom it might have the most value.
To my mind, the tour revealed five types of buyers who might be interested.
Potential Buyers for the Las Vegas Underground House
1. The committed prepper
This is the buyer who wants to extend their life as long as possible by cocooning in a fortresslike retreat. Hidden below the Earth, they hope to avoid natural disaster, ne’er-do-wells, and disease.
And although there’s really nothing built that can protect you from a direct hit from a nuclear bomb, this place comes close.
It has a network of massive steel beams overhead (I crawled into the underground “attic” to see them) and sturdy cement support posts disguised as tree trunks. To my untrained eye, it certainly looked as if it could keep you safer than 99% of the population.
Preppers could also live completely off the grid here, because the property features two 500-gallon water tanks and a diesel generator. It’s hooked up at the moment to city water, sewer, and power systems, but that could change if a buyer so desired.
2. A 1970s aficionado
The underground house and and guesthouse are filled to the brim with 1970s kitsch that would be near impossible to replicate.
I loved the pink-trimmed Barbie kitchen with original appliances, like a pop-out wall toaster and a cream-colored, in-wall intercom system.
I also swooned over the groovy furniture, like the bar stools with giant poker-chip seats, sputnik hanging lamps, and giant slipper chairs. All the furnishings are included in the price.
It was easy to envision the bitchin’ weekend retreat parties that could be thrown down there.
3. The restaurateur
From tables and chairs to linen, glassware, and china, the home is sold fully equipped. Perhaps an entrepreneurial buyer would want to entertain guests and charge them for a meal.
The Las Vegas Underground house kitchen is sizable and could be upgraded to professional status.
A family room already features a bar and could serve as a ready-made lounge. Meanwhile, the bedrooms could be converted into fun private dining suites.
That leaves vast expanses of lawn (green carpet), where dining tables can be placed. By my amateur estimation, the lawn could accommodate at least 40 guest tables.
The whole setup could be updated into something far more chic, or alternatively, be kept as it is and marketed as another quirky Las Vegas theme attraction.
4. The club promotor
All told, a club promoter seems the most natural fit for the place.
It is the perfect party pad, with yards of open, padded flooring, vast walls that could be turned into display screens, and a fortified underground location where no one can hear you sing.
You could crank up the music—and the neighbors would be oblivious.
Not only that, but the pool reminds me of the legendary Playboy Mansion grotto, which featured a pool I’ve experienced a time or two.
On a more practical note, it has tons of parking space above ground, and it’s a quick ride-share to the Strip.
5. A Bitcoin miner
This one could be the most far-fetched of all. You take that whole empty lot above ground and you put solar energy panels up there, maybe even an energy generating windmill. They supply part of the outrageous amount of energy it takes to mine Bitcoins.
The computers and processors are located underground. There’s a cantina for the people on the human staff when they need a break, and there’s also room for a gym. In addition, they can take a dip in the pool, or it could be converted to a fish pond, if they’re into that kind of recreation. It would make the time spent underground a little more palatable.
About the price
LaForge reports that thus far, interested buyers have been reluctant to offer several million dollars for the Las Vegas Underground House. Especially when public record shows the current owners purchased it for $1.15 million.
On the other hand, he says that when you consider the amount it would cost to build a similar facility from scratch, the $5.9 million is a relative steal.
Find out more about the Las Vegas Underground House in Lisa Johnson Mandell’s original article on Realtor.com.
Lisa Johnson Mandell says the famous and phenomenal Las Vegas Underground House will only appeal to a very specific buyer. Could it be you?