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City sells Merritt Road property to pot shop hopefuls for $1 million

March 15, 2019
<p>Marijuana shaped in the form of a Spartan 'S.' Erin Hampton/The State News</p>

Marijuana shaped in the form of a Spartan 'S.' Erin Hampton/The State News

Photo by Erin Hampton | The State News

The city of East Lansing has agreed to sell a property at Merritt Road and Park Lake Road for just over $1 million to a buyer hoping to open a medical-marijuana dispensary at the location.

The City approved a purchase agreement March 6 for the land, which was formerly used by the East Lansing Department of Public Works. If the buyer is licensed through the city and state's dispensary licensing processes, the location will become a retail outlet where citizens can purchase medical marijuana.

East Lansing held a three-party auction between Jan. 7 and Feb. 6. The City approved its sale to Kodiak Landarc, LLC, which posted a bid of $1,000,900 for the site.

Medical marijuana site applications are growing in frequency in East Lansing. This is the seventh proposal for a provisioning site in the city, five of which are on Grand River and Michigan Avenues.

However, just because the marijuana dispensaries have been proposed does not mean that companies will ever establish them, Tim Dempsey, the East Lansing's Director of Planning, Building and Development, said.

“They have to still go through the city approval process for a special-use permit for medical marijuana,” Dempsey said. “Also, they need to complete their due diligence on the property to ensure that the property is going to work for them from an economic standpoint."

Even though there's a purchase agreement, that isn't a guarantee the city will sell the property to Kodiak Landarc until the buyer completes that "due diligence." The company will have 90 days to do so before East Lansing finalizes the sale.

The site has had a turbulent past since the city vacated it in 2004. The City approved the for redevelopment in 2007, but plans never materialized. In 2011, East Lansing sold part of the land to Spartan Technologies LLC.

In 2016, the City of East Lansing received an offer to purchase the land, but the City never finalized said offer after the party requested brownfield tax increment financing in excess of $3 million.

In 2018, East Lansing adopted zoning overlays which allowed the site to be used for medical-marijuana dispensaries, after which multiple parties became interested in the land. Twelve parties were notified of an auction to be held on the site, where Kodiak Landarc placed the winning bid.

As it stands, dispensaries must be 1,000 feet from each other, although that could be slotted to change in the near future. A city proposal to lessen the distance requirement — but only under narrow conditions — was struck down in the East Lansing Planning Commission, after commissioners derided the proposal as a way to "make [the Merritt Road property] worth more money."

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