‘The news about this bunker lured me here. All the news I had read was good news'
Jonathan Baha'i, a Debert resident, purchased the Diefenbunker at a Colchester County tax sale on Wednesday for more than $31,000. The bunker, and an adjacent lot, went on the auction block after Anton Self of Bastionhost owed more than $18,000 in back taxes, interest and expenses. The 37-year-old businessman plans to bring his data centre back to the bunker. Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News
TRURO - A bunker from the Cold War has a new owner.
Jonathan Baha'i purchased the Diefenbunker in Debert at a Colchester County tax sale yesterday morning at a cost of $31,300.
The businessman used to be a customer of Anton Self, who owned the bunker and operated a data centre.
"When the bunker came available, I knew what the building is capable of and intend to use it for a data centre," Baha'i said following the sale of the property, as well as an adjacent property used as a parking lot. "Anton got something right - he showed that it can be used as a great secure data centre."
The bunker went on the auction block for tax arrears. Self owed a total of $18,100.13 on the bunker because of taxes, interest and expenses, as well as a total of $2,297.21 for the adjacent property.
During the tax sale, Baha'i got caught in a bidding war with a man who identified himself as Scott Verge.
"I was extremely surprised about the bidding war. I spent weeks doing my due diligence. I knew the condition of the bunker because I spent upwards of a year in there, and in talking to those involved, I knew there wasn't anyone else checking on it," said Baha'i.
The 37-year-old moved to Bible Hill from Ontario in April of 2010 to set up a data centre in the province, and moved to the military base in February of 2011.
"The news about this bunker lured me here. All the news I had read was good news."
He moved his business into the bunker in April 2011 and registered Server Balance Data Solutions with the province that summer. This past May he moved the data centre to Montreal after concerns were raised about unpaid bills at the bunker.
"Moving a network is a difficult process," Baha'i said. "It's like having an apartment building full of tenants and you're moving into a new building. It's costly and it's a difficult process."
Now that he's purchased the bunker, he wants to move his business back.
"Right now, I have plans to go in and assess any damage that's been done," he said, adding the power was disconnected a couple of months back. "There's probably mold and stuff inside."
A right of redemption exists on each property for six months, meaning Self can still pay the taxes, interest and expenses on each, as well as interest, to have them returned to his name.
Along with the $31,300 for the bunker, Baha'i spent $4,150 on the adjacent property.
Self appeared at the tax sale, walking in in the middle of the bidding war on the bunker property. Within minutes of it being sold, he was out the door.
Sitting in on the tax sale, Mayor Bob Taylor said he was pleased to see someone new purchase the property.
"I am so happy to see someone showing an interest in the bunker," he said. "I know they are looking for more development there and making it a more viable operation."
With more than 60,000 square feet available, Baha'i is already in talks with venture capitalists about possibilities.
"There are ideas in the field about research and development, and renewable energy. We're talking about aquaponics as well," he said.
What: Built to provide protection for civilian and military officials in the event of nuclear war.
Locally: Located at the former Canadian Forces Station Debert.
Size: 63,000 square feet
Cost: $2.7 million
Self-sufficient: It could be locked down and be self-sufficient for 60 to 90 days with its own air, water, power and food.
Walls: 10 inches of concrete
Cover: 18 inches of earth covers the roof
Capacity: Could house and feed about 350 people
Transferred to Colchester Park, a local development authority, in 1998 after the Department of National Defence finish all environmental assessments and decommission the facility; in 2005, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets used it for its Regional Gliding School (Atlantic) headquarters; in December 2008, Anton Self of Bastionhost purchased the facility to use as a high-density, groundwater-cooled secure data centre; Nov. 21, 2012 - sold to Jonathan Baha'i in a tax sale.