Studded pot company makes another run at Rainforest Cafe site
A highly influential cannabis company has canceled plans to move a dispensary from Norwood Park to the site of the former Rainforest Cafe after learning the proposal was illegal under state law.
But Palatine-based PTS is still looking to open a pot shop in the former River North tourist attraction after partnering with Bio-Pharm, a social equity firm that recently won another dispensary license.
Mike Riordan, president of the River North Residents Association, confirmed that a community meeting scheduled as part of the town’s special-use zoning approval process has been postponed after state officials canceled the plan. initial resettlement. That the planned move was illegal was first reported by the Sun-Times.
PTS had sought to move its dual-use Consume dispensary from 6428 N. Milwaukee Ave. at 605 N. Clark St. Yet the plan was doomed by state law, which prohibits medical dispensaries from traveling outside of their assigned districts and prohibits the state’s first retail businesses . permit holders to travel within 1,500 feet of an operating dispensary.
Mara Georges, a zoning lawyer representing PTS, said the firm believes it has a “viable option” to move its existing licenses because the town center lacks a medical dispensary. PTS did not see the 1,500 foot rule as the “main problem” because the area already has dispensaries operating that distance from each other, she said.
These stores, however, received permits at the same time, meaning they did not clash with an existing store. The partnership with Bio-Pharm was advantageous because the provision does not apply to social equity applicants and its license is designated for the appropriate field.
“They thought they had a viable argument,” Georges said. “It turns out that they didn’t, so they adopted a new strategy.”
Riordan said a new community meeting has been set for May 10 at Maggiano Banquets, 111 W. Grand Ave., to allow for the required two-week public notice. He added that PTS will “direct the operations” of the proposed dispensary under a management agreement with Bio-Pharm, which has been granted a license to run a recreational dispensary in a state-run lottery.
There is one major problem with the new plan, however. Although Bio-Pharm was named as a license, it is blocked by a Cook County judge’s order that blocked the issuance of the 185 new dispensary licenses.
Representatives of PTS have been in contact with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office in recent weeks, and the company has a close relationship with the city government.
Its newly installed CEO is Terry Peterson, a former 17th Ward councilman who also served as an aide to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, headed the Chicago Housing Authority, and chaired the board of the Chicago Transit Authority.
The company is also run by David Flood, whose family owns Flood Brothers Disposal, a waste hauling company that has lucrative contracts with city agencies.
His brother, Kevin Flood, led an unsuccessful campaign in 1995 to overthrow the late Ald. Burt Natarus, who for decades controlled the 42nd Ward PTS, is now trying to settle there. Kevin Flood then rubbed shoulders with the city’s political elite, including Daley and Ald indicted. Edward Burke (14th), as President of the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago.
Bio-Pharm, meanwhile, is tied to West Town-based Pickens Kane, which bills itself as the “largest commercial relocation company” in the state. Three people listed in state records as directors of Bio-Pharm are all connected to the company. They did not respond to requests for comment.
Georges, who was a city attorney when Daley was mayor, said both companies were minority-owned, though Bio-Pharm’s executives are all white. Peterson is black, a rarity for cannabis executives, but Georges wouldn’t say if he has a stake.
She said Bio-Pharm obtained social equity status by tapping a majority owner’s criminal record for a cannabis-related offence.