Muskegon businesses hope to sell recreational marijuana by mid-December

The interior of Park Place Provisionary in Muskegon.

Recreational marijuana could be sold in Muskegon by mid-December, business owners said following the state’s announcement this week that adult-use cannabis sales will be permitted in Michigan beginning Dec. 1.

The city’s two medical marijuana dispensaries, Park Place Provisionary and Bella Sol Wellness Centers, are preparing for the recreational sales—which they’ll be permitted to offer upon submitting another round of paperwork to the city of Muskegon and the state.

“It’s very exciting news,” Park Place Provisionary owner Greg Maki said of the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s decision to allow recreational sales come Dec. 1—and to give the green light to licensed medical marijuana operations to transfer up to 50 percent of their medical inventory for recreational sales.

“We were thrilled, and we’re thrilled to be in Muskegon County,” continued Maki, whose shop opened at 1922 Park St. in June. “The state and the municipality have been absolutely great. It’s been a learning process for everyone, and I’m very happy with how everything’s transpiring.”

The Muskegon City Commission voted in October to approve recreational marijuana dispensaries in the city, but it is still completing its recreational marijuana application—which businesses like Park Place and Bella Sol would have to submit before being able to sell adult-use cannabis. Once the city has finished crafting the application, which officials said is slated to happen shortly, Park Place’s owner and Bella Sol’s CEO expect it will be a quick approval process for them to launch recreational sales because they’ve already been licensed by the state as medical marijuana provisionaries.

The exterior of Bella Sol Wellness Centers in Muskegon. Photo courtesy of Bella Sol Wellness Centers

“This is great news,” Bella Sol Wellness Centers CEO Mindy Budzynski said of the state’s announcement. “We’re up and running and have a staff on hand. We’re all ready to go; it’s great to know in a few weeks we can, in theory, begin selling.”

Like Park Place, Budzynski said they’re aiming to begin selling recreational marijuana within the first two weeks of December.

Bella Sol too is already a medical marijuana provisionary; it opened Sept. 7 at 1839 Peck St. in Muskegon—a city Budzynski said she chose to operate in because “it’s a pretty good size but also has a very progressive city commission and city employees.”

“They are obviously trying to create jobs, create growth, improve housing,” Budzynski said. “We saw it as being a good location in terms of the size, the direction the city is going, their progressive beliefs, and being part of a community that’s very supportive. Everyone has been very welcoming.”

Muskegon is one of 22 communities that have adopted ordinances allowing recreational marijuana businesses; 1,393 municipalities have rejected marijuana businesses being able to operate there, according to the state. In West Michigan, legislators in Grand Rapids and the city of Muskegon have given the greenlight to adult-use cannabis, while such municipalities as Norton Shores, North Muskegon, Fruitport, Roosevelt Park, and Whitehall have rejected it.

All of this comes after Michigan voters approved legalizing the use, possession, growth, and sale of recreational marijuana in November 2018. The medical marijuana industry has generated more than $229 million in the past year, and, with the recreational sales, Michigan’s marijuana industry is expected to eventually become a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

In the first full fiscal year, marijuana sales are projected to generate $180.5 million in taxes—a number that’s poised to grow to $287.9 million by 2022-23, according to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency.

In Muskegon, the marijuana industry is translating to additional tax revenue, pot businesses breathing new life into vacant industrial buildings, building and landscaping upgrades, and other improvements, city officials have said.

Park Place Provisionary underwent extensive renovations prior to opening. Photo by Anna Gustafson

“We’re looking forward to it,” Mike Franzak, the city of Muskegon’s director of planning and economic development, said of the recreational marijuana sales.

“We’re seeing it as a way to bolster and beautify an area that’s kind of run down,” Franzak said in reference to the city’s medical and recreational marijuana overlay district—the space where the marijuana businesses are currently permitted to operate. “It’s new retail, and that’s good. We’re hoping to work on a policy that will encourage more retail to go in these buildings [where the marijuana businesses are]. We’re hoping there’s a snowball effect where those recreational marijuana sales will not only lead to the beautification of the area but also spur other investment opportunities.”

Muskegon’s medical marijuana overlay district was approved by city lawmakers last year, and its recreational overlay district was given the greenlight by legislators in October. City lawmakers approved both the sale and growth of recreational marijuana in the overlay district, as well as consumption establishments—commercial venues where patrons would be able to purchase and use marijuana and THC on site.

The recreational overlay district is located near Seaway Drive, with one section of the district being bordered by Seaway, Young Avenue, Park Street, and West Hackley Avenue. The district’s second section is bordered by Laketon Avenue, Park Street, Keating Avenue, Holbrook Avenue, and just east of Peck Street.

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At Bella Sol, Budzynski is hoping to do exactly what Franzak said city officials want to happen: bring more businesses to the space. She owns the 17,000-square-foot building Bella Sol is in; currently, the venue is home to the dispensary as well as a marijuana growing establishment. There are three available units in the building, which Budzynski is aiming to fill with something like a coffee shop or deli, as well as a consumption establishment.

“We feel a coffee shop or deli would be a really nice addition to the neighborhood; we feel it’s going to become a more walkable area there,” she said. “We’re hoping a potential tenant will approach us for leasing space. We want to continue to get some good tenants in there and really contribute to the neighborhood.”

At Park Place, the facility has undergone extensive renovations, including connecting the property with city water and sewer, landscaping, lighting, interior design, and more.

“This facility far exceeds what the municipality and state requires with bulletproof glass, security doors; we went above and beyond what both require,” Maki said in a previous interview with the Muskegon Times.

Story by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of Muskegon Times. Connect with Anna by emailing MuskegonTimes@gmail.com or on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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