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Medical Marijuana Dispensary 'Doesn't Fit In' on Fulton Market: Biz Owners

By Stephanie Lulay | October 16, 2014 8:49am
 Businessman Perry Mandera has applied to open a marijuana dispensary in a vacant building at 1105 W. Fulton St. in Fulton Market.
Businessman Perry Mandera has applied to open a marijuana 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 handful of Fulton Market business owners say they will not support a businessman's plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the neighborhood.

Trucking executive and strip club owner Perry Mandera plans to open a dispensary in a vacant building at 1105 W. Fulton St. If approved, the medical marijuana dispensary would be called Custom Strains.

Seth Hanau, who co-owns Cemitas Puebla Fulton Market and the building it is located in, said the dispensary was "not the right fit" for the high-profile neighborhood. The restaurant opened in September at 817 W. Fulton Market.

"There's a lot of excitement around Fulton Market and this is not the excitement we were thinking of, to be honest," Hanau said Tuesday at a Randolph/Fulton Market Association meeting.

Hanau, a native New Yorker, said that he did not oppose plans for a dispensary on Lake Street, where the potential for growth would be "suppressed by the nearby 'L' train."

"On Fulton, all I see is the old meat market of New York, which is now the most expensive retail and art gallery portion of Manhattan," Hanau said. "From a growth perspective and what I believe this neighborhood could be in 10 years, I don't believe a dispensary is an appropriate use of that real estate" on Fulton.

Bill Mondi, who owns a building near the proposed facility at 1109 Fulton St., said that he had concerns that Mandera's strip club ownership and other past business dealings could bring negative publicity to Fulton Market.

"I think it could be national news," Mondi said. "This could be a huge embarrassment for politicians, the neighborhood."

Melissa Otte, who co-owns Meloney Cunningham & DeVic Inc. at 1114 W. Fulton St., said she had questions about how the Fulton dispensary would add traffic to the busy corridor. Her family-owned business distributes dairy products and eggs.

In a statement Thursday morning, Mandera's attorney Brendan Shiller said several local businesses had expressed support for a dispensary at the site.

"The neighborhood currently has a dental office, a couple of doctors' offices, a chiropractor and is near some major medical facilities," Shiller said. "A medicinal marijuana dispensary use fits."

Shiller said Mandera owns a number reputable businesses, including one of the nation's premier transportation companies. Besides VIP's, a Gentlemen's Club, Mandera owns The Custom Companies, a trucking business, and Charter Fitness, a group of Midwest gyms.

"His success include[s] taking over an adult entertainment venue 21 years ago after it had received several violations and the city was trying to shut it down, turning that business around and keeping it open despite intense regulatory scrutiny," Shiller wrote.

Lake Street Zoning

Citing concern that a second proposed dispensary had not met with all West Loop neighborhood groups, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) said he planned to ask the Zoning Board of Appeals to postpone a hearing to consider The Clinic West Loop's special-use permit Friday.

Green Thumb Industries co-founder Ben Kovler, an investor, plans to open The Clinic West Loop at 955 W. Lake St.

The state plans on granting 60 dispensary licenses, 13 of which will be located in Chicago.

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.

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