SOUTH LOOP — As cannabis companies race to open new dispensaries in Chicago’s lucrative retail corridors, the field has now been expanded to the South Loop.
PharmaCann, which is currently permitted to open four recreational dispensaries in Chicago — including two in the lucrative Central Cannabis District — is eyeing two locations along South Wabash Avenue in and near the South Loop, according to documents filed with the city.
Those locations include a one-story building at 418 S. Wabash Ave. across the street from Roosevelt University on the south end of the Loop. The building rents for $225,000 per year, according to commercial real estate brokerage Sperry Van Ness.
The company is also looking at a retail space below the Fairbanks Lofts at 900 S. Wabash Ave. on the Columbia College campus in the South Loop.
PharmaCann asked the city’s zoning administrator for an opinion letter on the two locations, a procedural step before they can file an application for a special-use permit with the Zoning Board of Appeals. Dispensaries can seek guidance on multiple locations, but will only apply to open in one of the locations.
PharmaCann has already submitted one application for 444 N. LaSalle St. in the Central District, so they may only move forward with one of the South Loop sites, also in the district. The company also asked about a storefront at 12 W. Maple St. in the Gold Coast on the northern edge of the Central District.
Jeremy Unruh, director of public and regulatory affairs at PharmaCann, told Block Club the company hopes to have a strong footprint in the Central District.
“We are interested in making sure we have a strong presence in that district, so working to locate one of our [two Central District] sites in the South Loop is a natural for us. There’s a tremendous amount of revitalization going on in the South Loop, and we’d be thrilled to be a part of it,” he said.
So far, seven companies have filed applications with the zoning board to open a total of nine dispensaries, according to a city website that tracks the process. Companies have also sought guidance from the city on an additional 20 locations, but have yet to file an application.
Chicago’s cannabis zoning ordinance split the city into seven cannabis districts and established a downtown exclusion zone prohibiting dispensaries from locating in much of the Loop and the eastern half of River North.
The city held a lottery in November where companies chose which district they’d like to set up shop. Companies that were slotted in the Central and West districts have been the most active in seeking a new location.
Nine locations in River North are being considered.
Midway Dispensary has joined four other companies that aim to open in River North, just west of the exclusion zone. Their spot at 676 N. LaSalle St. is home to The Ardus, a sleek apartment building with studios with starting rents at $1,600 per month.
Cresco Labs, MOCA Modern Cannabis, PharmaCann and GreenHouse Group are also looking at buildings in the area, but not all of them will be allowed to open. State law prohibits dispensaries from opening within 1,500 feet of another dispensary.
Before they receive a license to open from Springfield, dispensaries must have local zoning approval for their location from the city and the state must inspect the property.
A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, responsible for granting the licenses and inspecting the properties, did not reply to questions about how the Department will choose between dispensaries that apply for a license within 1,500 feet of each other.
Dispensaries in the West District aim to open in the West Loop, and are looking at four location on Randolph Street, home to popular restaurants like Au Cheval and Girl & The Goat.
NuMed submitted an application with the zoning board on Jan. 13th to open at 935 W. Randolph St., currently home to a Floyd’s 99 Barbershop. They will hold a community meeting on the proposal at 6 p.m. Feb. 5 at Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph St.
Windy City Cannabis and Nature’s Care Company, owned by Acreage Holdings, have also zeroed in on the strip known as Restaurant Row.
In the North District, MedMen has applied to open a location at 1001 W. North Ave., next door to a Starbucks.
Avis Bulbulyan, CEO of SIVA Enterprises, a cannabis business development firm, said locating a dispensary next to one of the coffee giant’s shops is good bet.
“If you don’t know where to set up, set up next to a Starbucks. They’ve spent thousands on thousands upon thousands on just researching locations,” he told Block Club earlier this month. “…It’s no different from any other business, you’re looking for that foot traffic.”
A few blocks away, Windy City Cannabis filed an application on Jan. 8 to open a dispensary at 923 W. Weed St., a conveniently named address.
So far, Windy City Cannabis is the only company that has sought a location south of Roosevelt. The company is looking at a spot at 901 W. 35th St., a few blocks west of Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox.
Ten other new dispensaries are permitted to open in the City’s Southeast, Southwest and Far South districts, but dispensary owners have yet to propose locations to open in those South Side districts.
Before taking their case to open a dispensary to the Zoning Board of Appeals, dispensaries must host a community meeting. Four meetings have been scheduled to date:
- Cresco Labs: 6 p.m. Jan 28, 516 N. Clark St., for a proposed dispensary at 436 N. Clark St
- MOCA Modern Cannabis: 6 p.m. Jan. 29, 216 W. Ohio St. for a proposed dispensary at 214-232 W. Ohio St.
- NuMed: 6 p.m. Feb. 5, 656 W. Randolph St., for a proposed dispensary at 935 W. Randolph St.
- Acreage Holdings: 6 p.m. Feb. 6, 1215 W. Fulton Market, for a proposed dispensary at 810 W. Randolph St.
- PharmaCann: 6 p.m. Feb. 6, 516 N. Clark St., for a proposed dispensary at 444 N. LaSalle St.
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