Evergreen Market, set to become the city’s fourth cannabis retail dispensary at 101 E. Glenwood Ave., is anticipating opening its doors to the public sometime in spring of 2024.
Headquartered in Renton, Wash., Evergreen Market is two or three weeks away from getting final approval from the city, according to co-owners Arne Nelson and Eric Gaston.
“We just got news (Wednesday) that the police department has signed off on the final plans, so we’re just waiting for the fire department and the city,” said Nelson. “So, we’re ready to start swinging hammers around the end of the year. This is probably less than a three-month build-out.”
The building is 2,731 square feet, set on a 1.25-acre lot, with more than 40 sparkling slots.
Evergreen Market, which operates five outlets in the greater Seattle area but can’t expand further because of Washington state laws (though a legal loophole may allow further expansion), began eyeing Turlock as its entry point into the California market back in 2019.
However, EM’s path to becoming one of four dispensaries — Perfect Union, Firehouse, and Natural Healing Center are the other three — has been beset by delays from the outset.
After an agreement to lease a property on Golden State Boulevard fell through, a search for a new location ensued. The new property search was followed by paperwork delays, city staff turnover, a worldwide pandemic, and the need to restart the background-check process because so much time had passed — and a new police chief had been hired — since the completion of the original checks. All this combined to make it a lengthier process than those faced by the other dispensaries.
Even before California passed its legalization initiative in 2016, cannabis has battled a “street corner” image that stigmatized the industry. To this day, cannabis is classified a Schedule I narcotic by the Controlled Substance Act. By way of comparison, heroin also is a Schedule I substance.
Because of its Schedule I status, federal regulations make it next to impossible for entrepreneurs within the industry to obtain financing, according to Evergreen CEO Shannon Vetto.
It’s those barriers that Evergreen Market wants to help topple.
“We want to build a place where people can be comfortable,” said Nelson. “And we want to help people understand. We think it’s a big injustice that cannabis is still listed as a controlled substance.”
Evergreen Market’s Washington stores in Auburn, Bellevue, Kirkland, North Renton and South Renton — all within 30 miles of Seattle — have floor plans resemble a “modern country market,” according to Nelson, and each features a “book bar” and an on-site educational leader to help patrons learn about an ever-evolving product.
Already, the pilot cannabis program has generated nearly $4 million for the city.
Development agreements, used in conjunction with conditional use permits, allow for the regulation of cannabis businesses by determining the standards and conditions that will govern development of the property. In terms of cannabis, development agreements between local jurisdictions and commercial cannabis properties typically include a “public benefit” amount, designed and intended to offset or mitigate any potential impacts of the project on the community.
Under the approved development agreement, Dispensaries will pay to the city a public benefit amount of no less than $25,000 per month or 5.25 percent of its gross monthly receipts, whichever is greater. The minimum public benefit amount will increase by $5,000 annually throughout the five-year development agreement.