The person who bought the old Pine Bluff Commercial building with plans to turn it into a cryptocurrency mining operation — and who was shut down in that effort by the city’s Planning Commission — said he was leaving open the possibility of taking the city to court over the denial.
Joe Delmendo, owner of Commonwealth Real Estate of El Segundo, Calif., who bought the building in November for $619,500, called the thumbs-down from the Planning Commission “a joke,” adding that the city was missing out on the opportunity he was providing.
“My reaction? That’s politics for you,” he said during a recent phone interview. “Pine Bluff is losing out on quite a bit of economic development. I was trying to bring value to a dying city.”
Delmendo announced plans in April to renovate the building, located at 300 S. Beech St., which, for decades, was the home of the Pine Bluff Commercial newspaper. Since September 2020, the building had been vacant. Delmendo said in April that he had plans to invest $10 million to $15 million in the building and to create up to 75 jobs through various ventures, including the crypto mining operation.
But as much as Pine Bluff needs good-paying jobs and business development, the proposal for the crypto operation was not well-received. Major Shirley Washington said she began looking into such operations that had been started in other cities and was not impressed.
“I told the planning staff to keep an eye on this,” she said. “We need economic development, but we don’t need something that is going to take away from the things we’ve accomplished.”
The problems, as determined by planning and city officials, are that crypto mining operations are noisy and that they can siphon off a disruptive amount of electricity.