Pulling from the fortress concept and the family of Anne Frank, who hid in an attic for two years, I am considering an idea of an urban fortress in the event of SHTF. My idea is based upon the construction of a multi-story commercial building, where the top floor is unmarked on the elevator and unknown and inaccessible to those who do not have a passcode. The idea is creating a large area that is totally overlooked because the construction is such that people cannot identify from the outside how many floors are within the building since there will only be windows around the lower level front entry.
The space must truly be sustainable also. Below are my thoughts regarding options for shelter, water, power, food, sanitation, and security. I look forward to your feedback on any flaws in my thinking.
During the “happy path” days, the 10,000 square foot “office space” on the upper floor would be the headquarters for my family-based small business (with very attractive commute). In addition, it will also provide a heavily subsidized permanent “penthouse” residence for my wife and me. Though devoid of “curb appeal” of most homes, the center courtyard could become a very pleasant and secure living space. In time of duress, it could easily morph into an accessible bug out location for my extended family and close friends. It would include living space with kitchen, laundry, and private sleeping and bathroom facilities for between 10 to 30 people.
I will first seek to get a permit to drill a well within the footprint of the building. If the area is served by municipal water source and/or zoning will not allow this, I would look for alternatives like a well for “irrigation” purposes.
If none of this is possible, I will get creative. I am considering the use of a ground water heat pump to reduce the cost of “happy path” cooling purposes. This technology involves drilling a series of closed loop “wells” to serve as a heat sink or heat source, depending on the season. During this drilling, however, I would also include a wellhead that would include all the requisite hardware for water sourcing, including pressure tank, solar pump, and manual backup hand pumps. This well could be “capped off” to avoid violating local codes, but then it could be activated in times of duress. In addition, the 10,000 square feet of rooftop and 5000 square feet of courtyard will be specifically designed for rainwater collection, which would be funneled to large water holding tanks.
The 10,000 square feet of rooftop (exclusive of courtyard) could be used for a relatively large solar farm. Power could be harvested to provide for “happy path” power for the building, but it could also be isolated for the top floor usage exclusively in times of duress. With the recent advent of battery storage, I would, of course, place the batteries on the top floor, closest to the panels. In addition, I would strongly consider a top floor (sound deadened) emergency rooftop diesel generator to ensure that I can provide “happy path” backup for my tenants’ power needs, with obvious applications in times of duress. Of course all these expenses would have to be considered tax deductible business expenses supporting the “happy path” service to my commercial tenants. There is nothing like allowing the government to subsidize our preps by making them tax deductible business expenses,
The top floor ‘office spaces” would be designed with adequate storage space that could be used to warehouse storable food. For sustainability purposes, I am following a company called Gotham Greens. This company is placing greenhouses on the roofs of commercial buildings, creating commercial farms. Of course, they are working with tens of thousands of square feet, so my “company” would be only “exploring the feasibility” of several rooftop farm options that would be set up in our courtyard. We would offer up 500 to 1000 square feet of the 5000 square foot courtyard to explore a variety of prototype farming variations. I would consider “experimenting” with micro greens, aquaponics, hydroponics, growing towers, drip irrigation, and other “alternative” farming options.
There is a group selling a design for a “portable farm” with claims to have created a ~250 square foot aquaponics design with fish tanks and raised bed planters that claims to feed 8-10 people in perpetuity. I would use this courtyard space to gain experience with the various concepts and consider purchasing and storing the “infrastructure” required for one or two additional “portable farms” with the intent to bring them online should the need arise.
Add low volume experimentation with chicken coops, rabbit hutches, and/or beekeeping on the top floor that can be expanded if needed and you have a variety of protein options. This top floor “greenhouse” option, especially located in a top floor open courtyard, becomes the only viable, secure agriculture option during a TEOTWAWKI scenario.
I would love to have a site that allows a septic system drain field. Even if the structure were connected to city sewer, I would consider spending the money to create a “gray water” drain field that could also be “converted” during times of duress.
The concept here is to remain stealthy rather than tactical, totally hidden from outside world. The top floor would be specifically designed to remain hidden. Things like light and sound discipline would be critical. Of course, the lower floors would be secured with beefed-up security doors and use defense-in-depth concepts. But, even as the lower floors are eventually breached by looters, there would be no obvious telltale signs of a higher top floor.
When societal tensions rise, stairways to the top floor could be hoisted up via chain falls and ceiling tiles placed to obscure the existence of a higher top floor. Without obvious access points to indicate the existence of a higher top floor, the interior ceiling heights could be easily confused with the exterior building height. Wanting no obvious signs of occupants, cameras could be used to monitor the threats to the top floor perimeter. The building would be tall enough and designed in such a way that access via ladders would be a very challenging process and most would keep moving on to other, easier targets.
Gunfire is antithetical to the idea of stealth and in the interest of remaining hidden and would be avoided at all costs. To avoid detection, whenever possible, use of defensive weapons should be limited to the lower floors, consisting of booby traps of untraceable origins and/or use of suppressed or silent weapons whenever possible. Defenders, if required, would encounter invaders in the lower floors under the guise of being “squatters” living in the lower floors and would not necessarily reveal the presence of a more comprehensive living arrangement above.
The biggest advantage would be the urban location of this retreat. It would be advantageous at the time when the prevailing movement of the population is away from building when the “golden horde” moves out of the city and into the countryside.
The Ultimate Shelter-In Location Should Bugging Out Become Necessary
This design would provide the ultimate “shelter-in” location. But taking things one step further, the addition of a bunker shelter under a commercial building would provide a totally unexpected, totally hidden retreat inside a hidden retreat, serving as an easily accessible “bug-in” destination should “bugging out” become necessary.
Though representing a significant financial investment, commitment of time, and resources, if society remains on the “happy path”, this commercial development could potentially provide an inflation-adjusted income stream, “management” residence, and flexible “retirement employment”. Occupancy by multiple families would allow extremely flexible hours and easy retirement travel as long as society remained peaceful. It would also allow our family to live close enough to remain engaged in our church and our community, as long as things went well.
If things go south, however, the site could be sealed up and altered to become a hidden, stealthy, “urban fortress” providing a safer, more secure, and perhaps the only truly sustainable option in many TEOTWAWKI scenarios.
I was hoping that I could get some feedback on this proposal and would sincerely appreciate comments from you and your readers.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.