Pot shop eyes former Friendly's site in North Adams

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NORTH ADAMS — As marijuana retailers come online in Leicester and Northampton this week, North Adams soon could have a shop of its own.

Evergreen Strategies LLC has submitted plans to the city for a marijuana business in the former Friendly's restaurant on State Road.

In 2016, 61.9 percent of city voters approved the ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana. The city adopted a set of zoning regulations for licensed marijuana establishments earlier this year.

"This is a progressive city that was supportive of this industry — that's important, you need to have municipal support," said Evergreen owner Anthony Parrinello.

Mayor Thomas Bernard said he's pleased with the proposed location.

"'It's in the west end, and I could envision it becoming a commercial anchor on that side of the city," Bernard said.

The Stow-based company's plans will be reviewed by the Planning Board at its Dec. 10 meeting at City Hall.

Ideally, the business would be open by early spring 2019, according to Parrinello.

Parrinello "fell in love" with North Adams on a trip to Wilco's Solid Sound Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and sees the "tremendous growth that's forthcoming" in the city.

In addition to the beautiful mountain views, Parrinello was attracted to the economic development happening at places such as the Tourists hotel and Greylock WORKS, as well as existing assets like the municipal Harriman and West Airport.

"It's a very supportive municipality that took early action," Parrinello said, referring to the adoption of marijuana zoning regulations. "You have an area that's just beautiful, you just have all these folks looking to empower and make an impact from an economic development standpoint."

Evergreen is the second business to express interest in operating a marijuana establishment in North Adams — Valley Green Grow has also signed a host community agreement for a location on Curran Memorial Highway — but the first to submit a site plan to the Planning Board.

"Across the state, these companies are looking for communities that are looking to do business in the retail cannabis space. They found North Adams. They saw that it had assets that are favorable to them — favorable zoning and a community where they thought they would be successful," Bernard said.

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According to its plans, Evergreen Strategies would renovate nearly all of the approximately 2,220-square-foot former restaurant into a single-story marijuana retailer with a secure entrance, a reception and waiting area, a sales floor and other amenities.

The building is surrounded by other businesses, the application notes. Nearby buildings include the vacant former Price Chopper, Monro Muffler Brake and the Thrifty Bundle Laundromat. Though located in an industrial zones, there are residences on the opposite side of State Road.

The business expects to have about 30 to 50 customers every day, with plans noting that such traffic is probably less than that generated by the former Friendly's restaurant.

The building will employ "state of the art security infrastructure," the plan states.

The location was chosen by Parrinello — who has experience in the medical marijuana industry as the former COO of Sira Naturals and then the CEO of Temescal Wellness — partly because it is a standalone building with adequate parking.

Evergreen already has inked a host community agreement with Mayor Bernard.

The deal requires Evergreen to pay an annual community impact fee equal to 3 percent of its total revenue from marijuana sales. The payment will occur quarterly for five years, after which the company and city will negotiate a new community impact fee.

On top of the impact fee, the city would also receive revenue from standard property taxes on the site.

Bernard said it is too early to project what the tax revenue from the business could be, but it could begin to look for clues to the city's east starting today.

"What will be interesting is what we learn from Leicester and Northampton starting [today]," Bernard said.

Evergreen also will make a contribution annually to a local charity of its choice, per the agreement, although an amount is not specified.

For the plans to come to fruition, next steps for Evergreen include closing on the property and receiving approval to operate from the state Cannabis Control Commission.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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