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In Texas, a high-end housing community designed for doomsday

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Trident Lakes, an under-contruction community outside Dallas, is being built for the best to help them survive the worst

A master plan for the under-construction Trident Lakes development in Texas, an hour from Dallas
A master plan for the under-construction Trident Lakes development in Texas, an hour from Dallas
Trident Lakes

In many ways, Trident Lakes, a new, 700-acre planned community an hour north of Dallas, has the same splashy features of other new developments. Future residents can play golf, stroll amidst a trio of crystal-clear lagoons, and enjoy shopping and spa services just a few minutes from their new homes. While the project’s 50-foot tall statue of the Greek god Poseidon, which will be visible from the highway, is eye-catching, the difference between this project and typical high-end suburban sprawl is an unprecedented focus on security.

Built for more than 1,000 residents, the community is set behind 12-foot walls and watchtowers, will be guarded by a private security force, provide access to emergency underground bunkers, and can function self-sufficiently in case of a national emergency or nuclear attack. Eventually, planners want to add a private airstrip.

“The unique thing about Trident Lakes is that unlike other prepper-type properties, this is going to be a sustainable community that for all appearances, looks like a 5-star resort,” says communications director Richie Whitt. “This is not first-come, first-served. People will be turned away from Trident Lakes. We’ll hand-pick a community best-equipped to survive.”

Designed to withstand doomsday, this under-construction community in Texas, estimated to cost $320 million when complete, is the latest example of selling extreme security features as the ultimate high-end amenity. The desire for safe rooms and bunkers has created a cottage industry for experienced construction and security professionals, but Trident Lakes, which bills itself as an “ultimate safe haven” that provides “luxury life assistance,” takes things a step further.

In increasingly uncertain times, Trident Lakes gives peace of mind to wealthy individuals who want to invest in their protection, says Chief Security Officer Robert I. Kaneiss, a former U.S. Navy SEAL with extensive experience in diplomatic protection. He’s sees the concept as a shrewd move to fill a gap in the market.

“Look at what we’ve seen in the past 2-5 years in the U.S.,” he says. “All the shootings, the anti-political movements that can turn violent. There are a lot of folks in the United States who are taking a step back and saying, ‘what is happening?’”

A model of a condo complex at Trident Lakes
A model of a condo complex at Trident Lakes
Trident Lakes

According to Whitt, the idea for Trident lakes started with socialites at a Dallas party, concerned with recent acts of violence, such as the Dallas police shooting last summer, and other domestic and international terrorist incidents. The conversation progressed from “what-if’s” to being proactive and building a community. Soon, partners, such as CEO James O'Connor, joined together, formed a group called Vintuary Holdings, and purchased land in Fannin County, Texas, in the small town of Ector (population 695). The name of the project comes from their shared love of mythology and references the Greek god of the ocean.

Currently under development, Trident Lakes will have a grand opening later this spring, allowing prospective buyers to begin touring the grounds. Move-ins are projected to start in the first quarter of 2018.

The site will be divided between private area for residents, which will contain condos (prices are estimated to be in the mid six-figures), a golf course, and other amenities, and a semi-private area with shopping and other facilities accessible to non-residents. The 400-or-so units, clustered around three lagoons, will have most of their living space underground for added security.

Buyers can apply for information on the development’s website, but acceptance isn’t guaranteed. Prospective Trident Lakes residents need to be approved, and will be chosen with an eye towards a sustainable community in case of an emergency. Kaneiss described it as “being able to reverse-engineer your client base.”

Developers chose the rural location as part of its safety plan, positioning the new homes far away from a big city and its potential dangers. Kaneiss says Trident Lakes is being built for self-sufficiency. Viewing the development as a collection of high-value assets he needs to protect from any threat—he said that could range from Muslim extremists to paparazzi—he’s focused more on domestic instability than anything else. He doesn’t believe there will be a Red Dawn-type situation—a reference to the recently remade ‘80s movie where Soviets secretly invade the U.S.—but rather, the country will “fall apart from the inside.”

“I think that’s already begun, in my view,” he says. “Things that shouldn’t happen in this country need to be addressed. If the federal and state governments can’t do it, who will?”

While the idea of Americans bunkering down in a private compound with a highly-trained private security force may strike some as an over-reaction, or even paranoia, the concept has struck a chord with its target market. The response from prospective buyers has been overwhelming, ”beyond our wildest dreams,” according to Whitt, with hundreds of potential tenants expressing interest, and he says the local community is happy for the jobs and upper-income families coming to the sparsely populated area.

According to both Whitt and Kaneiss, the group behind Trident Lakes is already looking at expansion. Land for a similar development has been purchased in Southern Ohio, and other sites are being scouted across the United States.

While the business model might have sunny prospects, its emergence suggests some unsavory aspects of the current climate in the United States. While Kaneiss sounded excited about the challenge and potential of Trident Lakes, he shared the somewhat gloomy assessment of what’s happening in his country, and what this development may represent.

“I’m disappointed,” he says. “I recently spent eight months working in Mogadishu, Somalia, dealing with IEDs, explosives, and gunshots on a daily basis. Every few weeks, I’d then get news about an active shooter situation back home. People there would stop and ask, ‘What is going on in the United States?’”