An applicant who had previously proposed opening a medical-only marijuana facility at 331 Newbury St. returned on Monday to the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) Licensing and Building Use Committee – this time with plans to open a combined recreational/medical dispensary at the same location.
Compassionate Organics, founded by Geoffrey Reilinger of the Back Bay, filed an application with the City to open a medical-only dispensary in 2016, which was subsequently approved by the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) and received a letter of non-opposition from the Boston City Council, but was opposed by NABB, said Mike Ross, the applicant’s attorney.
Afterwards, the City changed its requirements, mandating the applicant secure a host community agreement, and that applicant refile and provide more information regarding parking provisions with the ZBA. But the applicant, however, was ultimately unable to secure the necessary building permit from the City to move forward with the project.
“Our intent was to open and demonstrate who we are and how we operate as a medical facility and then come back to [the committee] and talk to you about what it would take to make it adult-use,” Ross said. “[More than] two years ago, it made sense to move forward with that strategy, but unfortunately, we haven’t been able to open.”
Since that time, Rellinger has paid more than $10,000 a month in rent, Ross said, which ultimately led him to recruit Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a Chicago-based company that operates 40 dispensaries in 12 states, as an outside investor. GTI ultimately infused enough money into the business to gain control of Compassionate Organics, although Rellinger is still involved in the venture, Ross said.
Also, because a City ordinance has since been enacted mandating that a half-mile buffer must separate any two dispensaries located in Boston, Ross said Compassionate Organics believes it should rightfully be able to open on Newbury Street and take precedence over other applicants that came along afterwards.
Elliot Laffer, committee chair, countered this argument was “specious” because the original application was for a medical-only dispensary whereas the current proposal includes plans to sell recreational marijuana as well.
As part of its mitigation efforts in the community, Ross said Compassionate Organics would hire security to patrol the Commonwealth Avenue Mall in an effort to curb public consumption of marijuana in the area. “We’re prepared to put money towards community effort that deal with these type of issues,” he added.
Ross said the dispensary’s capacity would only be 68 people, which would help minimize its impact in the neighborhood.
Laffer also requested that the applicant consider banning the sale of single pre-rolls, much like many area liquor stores have done with single-serve “nips,” and return with an answer before the NABB board is scheduled to meet tonight, Jan. 9.
•In another matter, representatives from Smash-burger, a Denver-based chain of “fast-casual” hamburger restaurants, detailed their plans to open at 545 Boylston St. in the space previously occupied by Noon Mediterranean restaurant.
Andrew Upton, the applicant’s attorney, said the restaurant intends to sell beer, but that alcoholic beverages wouldn’t be permitted on its outdoor patio (at least to start).
“We hope to open in April if we can,” Upton said, adding the proposed restaurant wouldn’t require any zoning relief.
•Moreover, representatives from Pressed Café, which serves coffee, raw juices and smoothies, along with panini and other lite fare, and operates four locations in Burlington and Newtown and North and South Nashua, N.H., respectively, detailed their plans to open a fifth eatery in the space previously occupied by 5 Napkin Burger at 105 Huntington Ave. in the Prudential Center.
The proposed restaurant, which would have a closing time of 10 p.m., is slated to open in April or May, they said.