CARBONDALE — During its Tuesday meeting, the Carbondale City Council unanimously approved the sale of 800 E. Main St. to a company hoping to build a craft grow cannabis facility, and potentially a dispensary, on the lot.
SuiteGreens LLC, a Chicago-based company, sent a letter of intent to the city on Feb. 25. In it, Diane Howard, an administrator with the company, laid out the company’s plan for the vacant lot that for years was home to the dilapidated, abandoned former Horizon Inn.
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“Our goal is to purchase an available cultivation site and upon cultivation license approval, build and develop our craft grow, infuse and transportation facility,” the letter says. Howard also wrote that SuiteGreens would partner with other cannabis companies, including BT Farms, the Greenhouse Collective "A Cannaboutique," as well as Moxie, a medical marijuana manufacturer.
The sale of the property, which the city has owned since 2014, is contingent on SuiteGreens being approved for its craft grow license by the state, a decision that will come by July. Howard’s letter said, upon approval, it was anticipated that the facility would be up and going within six months. The letter said the group hopes to work with local contractors.
“Our goal is to hire local Carbondale vendors for our construction and development process along with other local Illinois vendors. Once operational, we will dedicate a portion of our workforce to train local Carbondale residents in the cannabis industry,” the letter says.
The company also hopes to create a cannabis culture around the location.
“As part of our community engagement, we would love the opportunity to create a cannabis incubator that empowers and educates the public, future employees and cannasseurs alike.”
Carbondale Economic Development Director Steve Mitchell said SuiteGreens contacted him in early February about the project.
“Holy cow we’ve been looking for you guys for forever. We haven’t found a town in Illinois this friendly toward cannabis-related businesses,” Mitchell remembered being told.
He said the company is hoping to engage in the cannabis law’s social justice component, training locals to work in the industry. Mitchell also noted that the property on East Main is located in a district that was disproportionately impacted by strict drug laws.
Howard wrote in the letter of intent that it was anticipated the facility could bring as many as 30 to 40 jobs.
However, if all goes well, SuiteGreens wouldn’t just stop at a grow facility.
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“Since we are also dispensary applicants, we love the idea of being able to build our dispensary as well, upon license approval,” Howard wrote in the letter.
Mitchell said that the zoning for the property would allow for both production and retail sale of cannabis.
The agenda item came with little discussion Tuesday. Councilman Adam Loos asked where the $450,000 check from SuiteGreens would go. City Manager Gary Williams answered that it would go back into the city fund that bankrolled the demolition of the hotel building that formerly occupied the space. There was also discussion about how to regulate the facade of the building, with some noting that it would sit near downtown.
Carbondale’s council has acted to intentionally sell the city as the cannabis capital of the region. It voted in October to encourage cannabis businesses to come to town and city officials have been courting cannabis professionals of all types to locate their businesses in the city. Mitchell said Tuesday’s vote was the council “walking the walk” in terms of its support of the cannabis industry in town.
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