ZenLeaf Dispensary Proposal Update
The decision for ZenLeaf's request to open a dispensary at 7541 N. Clark is pending at this time. After ZenLeaf joined the 49th Ward Office on March 8 to share their plans to relocate to a vacant storefront in the Gateway Center, we learned that a social equity applicant, OKAY Cannabis, was further along in the approval process to open just one block north at Chicago and Howard in Evanston. A decision will be made on May 8 on whether or not OKAY Cannabis will be given the green light to open at this location.
In Illinois, State law generally prohibits cannabis dispensaries from locating within 1,500 feet of another dispensary. There are some exceptions in the law that allow social equity dispensaries to open within 1,500 feet of non-social equity adult-use cannabis dispensaries. With OKAY Cannabis farther along in the process, however, that could prevent ZenLeaf from being able to open at this location since it is not a social equity license holder and it is within 1,500 feet of another dispensary.
Additionally, in reviewing the feedback results for ZenLeaf's proposal, we saw some common themes of concern about this particular location. Neighbors expressed concern that there were three dispensary proposals in close proximity to each other (all three proposals fall within one mile of each other). Another common theme that came up in the survey were concerns about a multi-state conglomerate operating and how that could impact the viability of social equity operators. We have heard anecdotal experiences from social equity license holders about the challenges they have faced in opening up while continuing to see multi-billion dollar multi-state conglomerates proliferate throughout the state.
After a decision is made on OKAY Cannabis on May 8, we will revisit ZenLeaf's proposal to open in the Gateway Center. Should OKAY Cannabis be given the proper approvals, ZenLeaf would need to find an alternative location since it would fall within 1,500 feet of another adult-use dispensary.
ZenLeaf Survey Results
The 49th Ward has compiled all the survey results for the ZenLeaf dispensary proposal. We have broken down the responses more granularly to get a better idea of how the community at large feels versus those closest to the proposed location. As you scroll through the presentation of the results, you will find it broken down by:
All 49th Ward respondents
49th Ward residents who live farther than four blocks away
49th Ward residents who live within four blocks
49th Ward residents who live within two blocks
49th Ward residents who live within one block
Respondents who live outside of ward boundaries
The common themes we saw in the open comments section for this proposal included the following:
Concerns that the dispensary is located in a part of the ward that already has concentrated crime and that opening a dispensary will exacerbate those issues
Concerns about a multi-state conglomerate operating and how that impacts the viability of social equity operators
Support for the location in the Gateway Center due to the ease of getting there
The 49th Ward is reviewing all submitted feedback with ZenLeaf. Please continue to keep an eye on our newsletter and website, where we will share information on the outcome of those conversations and other important updates.
To view the granular breakdown of all community feedback, visit bit.ly/ZenleafSurveyResults.
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Zenleaf's Proposed Dispensary
On March 8, our office hosted a community meeting to discuss Zenleaf's medical and recreational dispensary proposal at 7541 N. Clark in the Gateway Center. The proposal would require an amendment to the planned development that governs the zoning for the property to allow for the establishment of a dispensary. No other changes to the bulk or density of the planned development are proposed. If ownership is successful in amending the planned development, it would still need to secure special use approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
We would like to hear residents' feedback on the proposal. Please take a moment to complete the online feedback form at bit.ly/ZenleafFeedback. Feedback will be accepted through April 2, 2023.
Update on Zenleaf Dispensary Proposal
On March 8, 2023, the 49th Ward office hosted a community meeting to discuss Zenleaf's medical and recreational dispensary proposal at 7541 N. Clark in the Gateway Center. The proposal would require an amendment to the planned development that governs the zoning for the property to allow for the establishment of a dispensary. No other changes to the bulk or density of the planned development are proposed. If ownership is successful in amending the planned development, it would still need to secure special use approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
A survey for residents to submit feedback on the proposal will be made available in the weekly e-newsletter that is scheduled to go out on Friday, March 17, 2023. Once that newsletter goes out, we will make sure to update this page with a link for residents to complete the survey.
Community Meeting on Zen Leaf Planned Development Amendment Proposal March 8
Zen Leaf will join the 49th Ward office for a community meeting on Wednesday, March 8, at 6 pm to discuss a request to change the Planned Development at the Gateway Center. Zen Leaf owns a medicinal and recreational dispensary at 7305 N. Rogers and is looking to relocate it into a vacant storefront located on Clark.
The dispensary has outgrown its location on Rogers and has been searching for a new storefront in Rogers Park that would allow more space to accommodate its customers. Previously, they had considered the former Leona's location on Sheridan. However, the proposal was withdrawn after hearing from neighbors that while they supported the dispensary, they thought that an alternative location would be more suitable for the business.
In November, my office shared an update that JB Albertos made an offer to purchase the former Leona's location. We are hopeful that conversations between JB Albertos and the property owner at Leona's can resume.
Since the proposal was withdrawn, we have been working with Zen Leaf to address the concerns and propose alternative sites. After several months, Zen Leaf landed on the retail space directly north of the existing Aspen Dental in the Gateway Centre Plaza at 7541 N. Clark. The location will provide Zen Leaf with approximately 4,800 square feet of retail space and 100 parking spaces immediately east of the building. With its proximity to multiple transit options, its central location, and the ample on-site parking available, the owners feel that this location will ideally meet the needs of its customers and patients. It will also fill a currently vacant storefront in a critical commercial corridor in the ward.
In order to establish a dispensary at this location, ownership must first amend the planned development that governs the zoning for the property. The only proposed change to the planned development would be to allow a medical and recreational dispensary within the planned development boundaries. No other changes to the bulk or density of the planned development are proposed. If ownership is successful in amending the planned development, it will still need to secure special use approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Ownership intends to file for the planned development amendment in March 2023 and then for the special use approval in July 2023. The owners hope to open the new location by the end of 2023.
My office will host a community meeting on the proposal on Wednesday, March 8, at 6 pm via Zoom. To register to attend the meeting, visit bit.ly/2023TownHalls. Spanish translation will be available.