The broker hired to lease commercial space in the former Daily Item building is talking to a marijuana clinic operator interested in locating on the first floor.
But the city and the new landlord say a pot shop is the wrong retailer for the iconic flatiron building slated to become luxury apartments across from the MBTA’s commuter rail station.
“Everything is on the table,” said Christopher Bibby, president of Bibby Real Estate Corp., under contract with Be Developer Group who purchased the five-story building last year for $945,000, to lease 18,000 square feet of on the ground floor and lower level. “It’s a legitimate business that is expected to bring in $600,000 annually to the city of Lynn based on sales of $20 million.”
Many people say a pot shop fits with the city’s arts and entertainment district, he said. The dispensary will generate foot traffic from people with disposable income, considering the average pot sale is $50.
But not everyone agrees.
James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development Industrial Corp., the city’s development bank, said while the City Council has approved two medical marijuana clinics and as many as six more recreational shops can open in the city by right, the former Item property is not the right place for a dispensary.
“That’s a key mixed-used use property in downtown, about 30 steps from the MBTA,” he said. “There are other spots in the downtown that may be suitable for a marijuana dispensary. But not there.”
Chirag Savaliya, CEO of Be Developer Group, also said he is not convinced selling pot on the first floor is the best use for the space.
“That’s not what we imagined for that building,” he said. “Would I live in an apartment building where you can smoke marijuana downstairs? The answer is no. Our agent (Bibby) is looking for an opportunity and he found someone who might be interested, but it’s not my first choice to have a marijuana store in the building.”
Ward 5 City Councilor Dianna Chakoutis said she was unaware of the prospect of a pot clinic leasing space in the former Daily Item building in her district.
“This is news to me,” she said. “I haven’t heard a word about it.”