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Crypto Millionaire To Develop 67,000 Acres Into City Powered By Blockchain

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Lawyer and cryptocurrency millionaire Jeffrey Berns wants to leave his mark on something more tangible than cryptocurrency-based deals. He wants to develop a brand-spanking-new city in the Nevada desert not far from metro Reno-Sparks.

Innovation Park
Rendering of Innovation Park

Berns' company, Blockchains LLC, paid $170M in cash earlier this year for 67,000 largely undeveloped acres in Storey County, a site larger than Reno.

Berns envisions an experimental community spread over about a hundred square miles, including the development of residences, schools, commercial properties and production studios, the New York Times reports. He selected Nevada for its inexpensive land and low taxes, among other factors.

There will also be a research campus on hundreds of acres that focuses largely on cryptocurrency and related tech, as well as a college and an e-gaming arena. Berns plans to call the smart city Innovation Park.

In the new city, blockchain technology will be incorporated into all of its infrastructure and systems. Blockchain is the database introduced by bitcoin that is beginning to have an impact on commercial real estate.

Blockchains LLC has tapped EYRC Architects + Tom Wiscombe Architecture to design the city. According to the architects, the buildings will support communication and creativity, including such structures as massive workplace/manufacturing hybrids, where inventions are conceived and prototyped. Also, large interior civic-scale spaces and shaded green courtyards will serve as community areas for meeting and learning.

Energy will be provided by renewable sources, such as solar and wind. Water — a particularly precious resource in the desert — will be recycled and reclaimed. Autonomous vehicles, rather than simply moving between buildings, will provide circulation inside and through the buildings.

Historically, Storey County was known as a locus for the state's silver rush in the 19th century, but more recently it attracted Tesla’s Gigafactory, which is near Blockchains LLC's land. 

Google, Apple and Switch also have properties in the industrial park near the Blockchains LLC holdings.

So far there has been little work at the Innovation Park site, but at the end of October, the CEOs of Blockchains LLC and NV Energy signed a memorandum of understanding that outlined an agreement to work together on energy projects powered by blockchain technology. 

"The goal of this collaboration is to create technology solutions that will produce customer-centric energy platforms powered by public blockchain, all with the intent of integrating approved incubations into Nevada's energy framework," Berns said in a statement. 

"These types of collaborative efforts, which return the power and control in transactions to the customer, are the very essence of blockchain technology. This partnership is only the beginning of what we have planned for Innovation Park."

Projects developed at Innovation Park could also be used to serve NV Energy's 1.3 million customers, according to the agreement, though any projects created there will first be presented by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada for approval.     

The vision of Innovation Park isn't so different, in spirit, from that of Blue Frontiers, which until recently planned to develop a collection of man-made islands off the coast of Tahiti.

According to Blue Frontiers' plans, a cyrptocurrency called Varyon (based on Ethereum) would guarantee holders' rights to live on one of the islands, and could serve as a form of currency there. The cyrptocurrency crash earlier this year and other factors put a halt on the plans, Bloomberg reports.