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Strip Club Owner Aims To Open Medical Marijuana Dispensary in West Loop

By Stephanie Lulay | October 3, 2014 7:52am
 Businessman Perry Mandera has applied to open a dispensary in a vacant building at 1105 W. Fulton St. in Fulton Market.
Businessman Perry Mandera has applied to open a dispensary in a vacant building at 1105 W. Fulton St. in Fulton Market.
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Mandera photo: Getty Images; Fulton photo: DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay

WEST LOOP — A strip club owner and trucking executive has applied to operate a medical marijuana dispensary at a vacant Fulton Market site.

Businessman Perry Mandera, who owns VIP's, a Gentlemen's Club, hopes to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a vacant building at 1105 W. Fulton St. Besides the Near North Side topless club, Mandera owns The Custom Companies, a trucking business, and Charter Fitness, a group of Midwest gyms.

The Fulton Street medical marijuana dispensary would be called Custom Strains, Mandera's attorney Brendan Shiller said Thursday. Mandera is the sole owner of the potential dispensary's parent corporation and no other partners are involved in the project, Shiller said.

In a statement Thursday, Mandera said his dispensary would aim to cater to military veterans and other licensed patients in need of care.

"I am a military veteran that has seen family and friends suffer from ALS, cancer and other ailments where the pain could have been alleviated by medical marijuana," Mandera said. "I look forward to working with the community to make sure that our medical facility becomes a good neighbor and important part of the community fabric."

The potential Fulton Market dispensary is the only one Mandera has applied to operate. He has also applied to operate two cultivation centers in the state, Shiller said.

Mandera is the second entrepreneur to confirm plans to locate a dispensary on the city's Near West Side. Earlier this week, Amanda Mages said that her partners plan to open a dispensary at 955 W. Lake St.

Stephanie Lulay says it's a tough road ahead for anyone looking to get into the medical marijuana business:

On Wednesday afternoon, the Randolph/Fulton Market Association will host a neighborhood meeting on the two potential dispensaries in the neighborhood. The meeting is slated for 12:45 p.m. at Coyne College, 330 N. Green St.

Before the end of the year, the state is expected to notify dispensary applicants whose licenses have been approved. More than 200 applications have been filed.

Marijuana businesses had until Sept. 22 to apply for a limited number of permits. The state plans on granting 60 dispensary licenses, 13 of which will be located in Chicago.

In addition to meeting state approval, Custom Strains would need a special-use permit from the city to operate. Mandera has applied for that permit, Shiller said.

As a consultant for Lakeview Strategy Group, a company he founded with his mother, former Ald. Helen Shiller, Brendan Shiller lobbied the city on behalf of Pooh Bah Enterprises, the company that owns and operates VIP's. Mandera is president of that company.

The building at 1105 W. Fulton St. is owned by an corporation held by Aiman and Aisha Humaideh, according to state business records filed earlier this year. Aiman Humaideh is a developer and film director.

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