CryptoWatt LLC — the company that launched a cryptocurrency mining operation in the former Mike Mansfield Advanced Technology Center south of Butte in March — says it’s no longer interested in purchasing the vacant W.K. Dwyer Elementary School.
That’s according to CryptoWatt spokesperson Matt Vincent, who sent an email to the school district Tuesday notifying officials of the company’s decision.
In December, the school board approved a $205,000 buy-sell agreement with CryptoWatt for the vacant school, where the company wanted to build a 3- to 8-megawatt training center and corporate office.
Vincent told The Montana Standard Tuesday that CryptoWatt decided to forgo the Dwyer deal because of residents’ concerns about noise and how the facility would impact the area surrounding the school, 1601 Tammany St., which is mostly residential.
Vincent also said the company didn’t view the facility as crucial to CryptoWatt’s overall business plan when compared to the company’s other operations, including a more-than-150-megawatt cryptocurrency mining facility the company plans to build in the Mill Creek Tax Increment Finance Industrial District southeast of Anaconda.
Also at issue was a delay in getting Atlantic Richfield Company to lift a deed covenant from the property. The company has covenants on several school district properties.
During a December meeting, school board members discussed the deed covenant that was attached to the school. That deed said the property must be used an an elementary school. At the time, former board member Dan Villa cited the covenant as a reason not to grant CryptoWatt the buy-sell agreement.
To get around the covenant issue, board members voted on a buy-sell agreement with CryptoWatt that was contingent on the school board getting the covenant lifted.
But getting those restrictions removed was complicated when district officials inadvertently began researching the wrong deed information in preparation for negotiations with Atlantic Richfield Company.
The Anaconda Leader reported last week that the school district had been consulting deed information for the school district’s administration building, 1410 Park Ave., which at one time served as Dwyer Intermediate School, instead of the information for Dwyer. This confusion held up the process of lifting the Dwyer covenant, and in the interim, the expiration date of the buy-sell agreement expired.
Dwyer Elementary is not the only district property that has a covenant attached to it, a fact that could complicate the future sale of at least one piece of district real estate currently on the market.
On hand Wednesday was Dottie Zimmerman of Anaconda’s First American Title Company, who researched deed information for multiple district properties.
Zimmerman told the board that in addition to Dwyer, the administration building, Mitchell Stadium and the old Anaconda Junior High School at 400 S. Main St. also have deed covenants attached to them.
By far the most problematic of the covenants is the one on 400 Main St., Zimmerman said.
Getting the deed restrictions removed for that property could require having to contact the heirs of Marcus Daly, and the district may have to go to court to get the restrictions lifted if the heirs don’t agree, Zimmerman said.
Despite the covenant, one person who says he’s still interested in buying Dwyer is Butte businessman Scott Haeffner.
Haeffner presented the school board Wednesday with a buy-sell agreement for $75,000 for the school.
Last year, he presented a similar proposal to purchase the building for $100,000 and turn it into a facility for the elderly, but that deal fell through.
Haeffner told the board Wednesday that he’s willing to purchase the property contingent on the covenant being lifted, but the board postponed taking action on Haeffner’s buy-sell agreement until the issues with the deed can be sorted out.
Vincent, meanwhile, said CryptoWatt will continue to pursue its plans for the Mill Creek cryptocurrency mining facility.
“We’re still moving ahead,” he said.