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March 15, 2024

Amid approval of 2 more cannabis businesses, is East Hartford becoming ‘cannabis capital of the Northeast?’

COSTAR A cannabis retail shop will open in this vacant 3,545-square-foot former state police union building at 500 Main St., in East Hartford.

East Hartford land-use officials, on Wednesday, signed off on a new recreational cannabis retail shop, as well as a separate cannabis warehousing and packaging operation.

That’s in addition to two cannabis businesses — a cultivator and retailer, respectively — the town previously approved. 

The influx of new businesses serving the state’s adult-use marijuana market led one member of East Hartford’s Planning & Zoning Commission, Republican Peter Marra, to wonder out loud: “Is East Hartford going to be known as the cannabis capital of the Northeast?”

Marra made the remarks during a zoning commission meeting on Wednesday. 

Marissa Baum, a spokeswoman for Mayor Connor Martin, noted Thursday the number of cannabis businesses approved so far is in-line with nearby communities. She said the town views the new businesses as a positive.

“As far as we are concerned, this industry really represents economic development for the state of Connecticut,” Baum said. “From our perspective, it’s a good thing.” 

The Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday approved a special permit for 6 West Ave LLC to open a retail shop in a vacant 3,545-square-foot former state police union building at 500 Main St. 

East Hampton resident Andrew Simonow – principal of 6 West Ave LLC – told the commission the shop will employ 30 people and serve 50 to 70 customers every hour.

According to Simonow’s application, workers will be compensated “above market rate” and receive benefits. The business will run from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

“Our experience with retail cannabis locations is very positive and the municipalities where they are located would agree,” Simonow wrote in his application, also noting the town will receive 3% of sales revenue.

Cannabis logistics

The commission also approved a cannabis products transportation and warehousing company that will operate out of an 8,000-square-foot manufacturing building at 351 Burnham St., as well as a 5,000-square-foot addition.

351 Burnham St., East Hartford

The operator is Justin Frytz, co-owner of The White Oak Bridge, which, on its website, says it is to become the bridge in the Connecticut cannabis supply chain, providing transportation and warehouse services to licensed businesses.

Frytz, on Wednesday, told the commission that operations will ramp up in phases. The venture will start with the simple transport of cannabis products, offering same-day services to cultivators and retail shops.

The second phase – targeted for third-quarter 2024 – will involve renovations to allow warehousing, including the addition of a storage vault, according to Frytz and his application. The third phase, to launch a year or two after renovations are complete, would involve construction of a 5,000-square-foot storage vault addition.

In December, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a cannabis cultivation facility at 241 Park Ave. In February, the town approved a recreational cannabis retailer for 32 Main St.

Responding to the question of whether East Hartford is becoming a marijuana business hotspot, Simonow noted there is a dwindling availability of state licenses available for new locations, and that he anticipated a declining number of proposals.

“I think we are reaching a natural point of selection where there won’t be a lot more entities that go for a location,” Simonow said.

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