Earlier this year, The Greenbrier, a sprawling 6,500-acre resort in West Virginia that features three golf courses and a skeet shooting range, re-opened one of its most popular attractions: an underground nuclear bunker. Decommissioned in 1992 after its presence was revealed by The Washington Post, the shelter was designed for the US Congress in the event of a nuclear attack. After a two-year renovation, the 100,000-square-foot facility is once again open to the public.
On the other side of the world, another equally drab Cold War relic, the Soviet-era housing block, is proving just as antiquated as that bunker. As the economies of Central and Eastern Europe prosper, newly wealthy residents are finding their old accommodations a bit too, well, Soviet. Fueled by an emerging middle class, real estate investors are financing a growing number of residential projects from Warsaw to Kiev, as well as office, industrial and retail developments. Our special report on the region begins on page 29.
One real estate investor who knows his way around Central and Eastern Europe is Marc Mogull, the founder of Benson Elliot. In the mid-1990s, Mogull worked at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, where he helped finance real estate projects in the capital-starved region. Beginning on p. 24, the notoriously press-shy Mogull offers his perspectives on the highs and lows of his 20-year career.
Over those two decades, Mogull and his contemporaries have witnessed firsthand the dramatic social, political and economic implications wrought by the fall of the Berlin Wall. But it's not just Central and Eastern Europe where real estate opportunities engendered by the end of the Cold War can be found. Take abandoned missile silos in the US. As the American government reduces its nuclear arsenal and unloads excess property, a company called 20th Century Castles is banking on investor interest in underground palaces (p. 4). It might not be the Greenbrier bunker, but an underground 45,000-square-foot Titan I missile silo, located outside of Denver, can be yours for $1.3 million.
Hire a decorator and enjoy the issue,