WEST LOOP — A weed dispensary is being pitched on one of the West Loop’s busiest blocks, sandwiched between popular restaurants and bars like Au Cheval, Little Goat Diner and Bad Hunter.
On Thursday, Nature’s Care Company pitched plans to open a 3,000-square-foot dispensary at 810 W. Randolph St. at a community meeting at Revel Fulton Market. The company, which currently operates a dispensary in suburban Rolling Meadows, aims to snag one of the six remaining dispensary permits allowed in the city’s West Distric, which includes West Loop.
But neighbors worry folks lining up to get weed on the busy block will cause problems to neighboring businesses like burger spot Au Cheval, which is known for its two-hour waits and lines out the door.
The Randolph weed shop would complement the neighborhood’s nightlife and would aim to serve tourists visiting the popular strip and employees who work at Google and McDonald’s corporate headquarters, Charles Amadin, general manager of the company’s Rolling Meadows shop, said during the meeting.
The weed shop aims to have an “upscale feel, high-end look and high-end customer experience,” said Nature’s Care spokesman Howard Schacter. Nature’s Care is owned by Acreage Holdings.
If approved, the shop would be open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily and would serve an average of 18-27 customers hourly, but it could handle up to 60 customers hourly, Amadin said.
But given the long lines weed shops have experienced since recreational weed became legal Jan. 1, some residents wondered how the group would handle an overflow of customers.
The company has a no loitering policy, Amadin said. Dispensary representatives would “shoo” away customers from the storefront and ask them to place orders online through a virtual app, Data Owl, to limit their time at the shop, he said.
Noting that Randolph is already a pedestrian-heavy block, one resident wasn’t convinced the company would be able to disperse crowds lined up to get weed so easily.
But Amadin said 80 percent of the businesses’ customers at Rolling Meadows order online and they anticipate it will be the same at the West Loop location.
Pre-order customers typically spend six minutes at the shop, while other folks spend about 20 minutes in the shop, he said. The company would consider renting an additional overflow space for customers to wait if needed, officials said.
Other residents asked about their safety plan after a burglary was reported at a Logan Square dispensary last month.
Armed security guards, who are retired police officers, would be stationed inside and outside of the shop, Amadin said. An armed security guard would be at the shop 24 hours a day and security cameras would be stationed in the alley and inside the shop.
Amadin said trained security guards will be able to spot “bad elements” from a mile away.
A day after Dan Lustig, president and CEO of the Haymarket Center, expressed concerns about another dispensary being proposed near the West Loop rehab center, Lustig said Nature’s Care’s dispensary plans would also cause issues for his patients.
Lustig wondered why, despite vetting the neighborhood, they didn’t take into account the treatment facility a few blocks away.
Nick Etten, Nature Care’s vice president of government affairs, said the company followed “the letter of the law and was more than 1,000 feet away” from the facility. He said he looked forward to continuing dialogue with Haymarket Center.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said he doesn’t have direct power over whether the dispensary will be approved, but it is possible the Zoning Board of Appeals will consider his input, he said.
Carla Agostineli, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization, said the group is advocating for more transparency around the state’s selection process.
The Zoning Board of Appeals will hear the next round of applications in March.
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