Instead, "with a great deal of energy and expense down the drain," Vicino said he is walking away from the so-called Ark. The company, he explained, incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in engineering and premarketing costs for the Kansas location, but it still has existent shelters, and will continue to build more.
The project, Vicino said, was scrapped for structural reasons: It was to be built in a former limestone mine that had been converted to a government storage facility before Vivos purchased much of it in 2013, but Vicino said he had safety concerns.
"I didn't feel safe in there, and I wouldn't put people in there in a disaster situation," he said, adding that the cost to mitigate the structural concerns would have far exceeded the originally predicted $35 million to retrofit the facility.
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This assertion was strenously denied, however, by Jacque Pregont, president of Atchison's Chamber of Commerce. She laughed aloud when told of Vicino's claim about safety, and said that there are several businesses operating in other parts of the mines, all of which are "very safe." Instead, she said, the Vivos project had difficulty attracting interest.
"I think it just didn't work, [Vicino] didn't get the reaction that he thought he would get, he didn't get the interest that he thought he would get," she said. "And that's OK, everybody has ideas that sometimes don't work out."