MUSKEGON, MI – A former Sons of Norway lodge soon will become a cannabis retail store, consumption lounge and grow operation.
The former lodge at the corner of Harvey Street and Marquette Avenue on Muskegon’s north side recently was added to the city’s marijuana overlay district.
It will be operated by the same folks who brought cannabis-infused fine dining to West Michigan.
Michigan Canna House, the parent company of Michigan Cannabis Chefs, is behind the new establishment that has yet to be named.
The site is the current home of Muskegon Taekwondo.
Cory Roberts, a partner at Michigan Canna House, said he was looking for a location for his new venture, and when he saw the old lodge, it ticked several boxes. It can be seen from nearby U.S. 31, it’s away from other areas of the city that are zoned for marijuana and it has a large space that can be renovated, Roberts said.
Its address, 420 S. Harvey St., seemed like fate, Roberts said. Four-twenty is slang for cannabis, and April 20 has become a traditional day for cannabis celebrations.
“It seemed like it was meant to be,” Roberts said.
The path for the budding business venture wasn’t exactly easy for Roberts. When initial financing for the project fell through, he was able to get the city commission to table its consideration to rezone the property for marijuana uses.
That was key because once property is zoned for cannabis uses, its price skyrockets, Roberts said.
Related: Marijuana-infused food goes gourmet with Michigan Cannabis Chefs
He joined up with his wife Lynette Roberts and partner Nigel Douglas, both of whom are the chefs behind Michigan Cannabis Chefs, to host a cannabis-infused gourmet dinner party in Chicago to court potential business partners.
It was there that they met Edgar Ramon, who said the group “hit it off right away.”
“I was honored,” Ramon said of the invitation to become a partner in Michigan Canna House and its Muskegon venture.
Ramon brought along his brother David Ramon, who also is a partner in the business venture. The Ramons’ Hispanic ethnicity and Roberts’ several-year incarceration on a marijuana conviction, allow the group to meet the state’s and city’s social equity guidelines for cannabis businesses.
The state provides reductions in license fees for those who have been convicted of marijuana charges, and city commissioners take into account minority representation when considering cannabis business use permits.
The city commission agreed on Tuesday, March 23, to rezone the property for cannabis uses. The city’s planning commission earlier voted 4-3 against recommending the rezoning.
Edgar Ramon said the group will close on the property April 2, and shortly after will bring in an architect to develop design plans. The existing 11,000-square-foot building will be renovated for the retail shop and consumption lounge, Ramon said.
The former lodge’s commercial-grade kitchen will allow Michigan Canna House’s chefs to bring gourmet food to the lounge – though it won’t be cannabis-infused, Ramon said.
A new grow facility, likely a greenhouse to take advantage of natural sunlight, and processing facility will be built on the property, Ramon said. The group is seeking a class D growers license, allowing for the cultivation of up to 500 plants, as well as a processing license.
Plans are for the retail shop and lounge to open by the end of the year, Ramon said. The growing and processing may take longer, he said.
Roberts said he’d like to provide opportunities to students at nearby Muskegon Community College and Baker College. The grow operation could provide internships or other experiences for students in MCC’s agricultural degree program, he said.
And students in Baker’s Culinary Institute of Michigan could be provided experiences in the new venture’s kitchen, Roberts said.
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