Logan Square Weed Shop Gets Key Approval To Open In Historic Milwaukee Avenue Bank

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CHICAGO — A second Logan Square weed dispensary could soon open in a former bank building after a key city permit was approved Friday.

The Zoning Board of Appeals approved a special-use permit for Chicago-based PharmaCann to open a dispensary under its Verilife brand in the Logan Square Trust & Savings Bank building, 2551 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The historic building, once proposed to be Double Door’s new home, will be protected through a community benefits agreement PharmaCann signed with Logan Square Preservation. As part of the deal, the cannabis company agreed to make facade improvements and restore certain historic features in the building.

The agreement also limits the dispensary’s hours of operation and prohibits on-site weed consumption if it is later legalized by the city. If the dispensary plan falls through, the building would be down-zoned to prevent other uses at the location, according to PharmaCann’s zoning attorney Katriina McGuire.

Customers will enter the dispensary along Milwaukee Avenue and exit onto Logan Boulevard, said Bill McMenamy, PharmaCann’s chief revenue officer. The pot shop plans to use an online reservation system so customers can order up to 48 hours in advance of pick-up. The system allows customers to move through the dispensary quickly, limiting wait times and lines, McMenamee said.

Before they can open in Logan Square, the company must complete the build out of the dispensary and obtain a state license.

RELATED: Logan Square Weed Dispensary Planned For Milwaukee Avenue Bank Goes Before Key City Panel

Considered a major player in the industry, PharmaCann has operations in five states, including a cultivation facility and five dispensaries in Illinois, but has yet to open a dispensary in Chicago.

PharmaCann’s entry into the Chicago market got off to a rocky start after the company abandoned plans for a pot shop on LaSalle Street over concerns the building’s landmark status would delay its construction timeline. And a PharmaCann bid to open a dispensary in the Gold Coast was rejected after pushback from neighbors, who argued the dispensary would tarnish the affluent neighborhood’s character.

As of Friday, 15 weed shops were operating in Chicago. Two others, located across the street from each other in the West Loop, received state licenses, but have yet to open their doors.

PharmaCann received a special-use dispensary permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals in November for 60 W. Superior St. in River North. The Herbal Care Center received one at the same meeting for 222 S. Halsted St. in Greektown. Neither has obtained a state license to open.

Andersonville Weed Shop Will Expand

Cannabis firm Dispensary 33 received approval to expand their existing Andersonville weed shop into two adjacent spaces. They plan to take over two storefronts formerly occupied by a nail salon and Hot G Dog, a hot dog restaurant spun off the renowned Hot Doug’s stand, that closed in June.

Dispensary 33 plans to expand the firm’s flagship location at 5001 N. Clark St. — the first dispensary to open in Chicago and one of the highest-earning in the state — by more than 3,400 square feet, a 63 percent increase beyond its current footprint. Ald. Matt Martin (47th) helped shepherd a zoning change (O2020-1890) through City Council last July, laying the groundwork for the expansion.

The “flow and the operational experience” of the existing shop will not change, but the expansion will give the shop “a little more opportunity to breathe,” said Bryan Zises, Dispensary 33 owner.

The Zoning Board of Appeals granted a permit for the expansion on the condition that the business does not allow lines of customers to form outside. Zises said the company has moved most of its business to an online preorder system, allowing the store to service more than 100 customers per hour without lines.

Asked about social equity measures baked into their proposal, Zises said the company has donated to the Chicago Community Bond Fund and “many food pantries” and has implemented a “puff puff passport” offering discounts to customers who shop at local businesses. Dispensary 33’s workforce is “majority minority,” Zises said, and the company’s median salary is above $40,000.

Dispensary 33 scored approval from the zoning board in October to open a second Chicago location at 1152 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop. The location scored an operating license from state regulators in November, but the location has yet to open.

Garfield Park Weed Farm Proposal Delayed

The board deferred a proposal to build a craft cannabis grow site and processing facility at 4411 W. Carroll St. in West Garfield Park.

The applicant, a venture involving Finis Collier, Lafayette Williams and Karen Riley, has “received several comments” from city planning department officials “regarding their site plans and landscaping plans” and is “working with the department to address them,” project attorney Charlotte Huffman said Friday.

Cannabis craft grow, processing and transportation licenses, originally meant to be awarded in July 2020, were delayed indefinitely by Gov. JB Pritzker over the summer. Last month, a federal judge denied a request by craft grow applicants to immediately award the licenses.

State law required craft grow applicants to secure a property before submitting their applications, and some complain they’ve been forced to fork over as much as $10,000 a month while waiting for the state to award the licenses, according to cannabis newsletter GrownIn.

Avondale Power Station, Logan Square Coffee Bar Approved

The CTA Blue Line will receive a boost in speed after the board approved a permit for the transit agency to build an electrical power station at a lot it owns, 3401 W. Barry Ave. in Avondale, in order to “accommodate additional ridership.”

In recent years, the CTA has made significant improvements to the Blue Line in response to an explosion in ridership that created severe overcrowding before the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite one neighbor objecting to the project, concerned it may attract those experiencing homelessness or be a physical danger to the neighborhood, Billy Drew, policy director for Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th), told the board the community supports the project and Rosa would work to “mitigate” any adverse effects on the neighborhood during the construction of the substation.

RELATED: With Blue Line Trains, System At Capacity Before COVID, CTA Eyes New Power Station In Avondale To Boost Service

The Board also approved a permit for Consignment Lounge, a coffee and beer shop at 3520 W. Diversey Ave. in Logan Square. Owner Mark Pallman said the lounge will serve as a place to work or meet a friend in a quiet setting. The residential unit on the second floor would remain, he said.

Pilsen Badminton Court, ‘Salt Dome’ Deferred

The Zoning Board of Appeals deferred consideration of Egret Badminton Club’s application to open a nine-court facility at 1936 W. 17th St. behind Orozco Community Academy in Pilsen, punting the matter until the board’s March 19 meeting.

Finally, the Public Building Commission and Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) requested a one-month delay on the commission’s plan to build a “salt dome replacement facility” on the site of the salt pile at 2555 W. Grand Ave. in West Town operated by the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.

The item has been delayed before, but project attorney Scott Borstein said Friday that the application will move forward in February or else it “won’t move forward at all.”

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