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May 5, 2023 REAL ESTATE

Cannabis distributor eyes Long Wharf site

PHOTO | File image The former home of the Long Wharf Theatre at 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven, may soon be home to a cannabis retailer.

The New Haven Food Terminal at Long Wharf may soon have a new tenant, as city officials said Massachusetts-based Insa cannabis retailer has signed a long-term lease.

The company, which has numerous locations in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida, has signed a 10-year lease for space at 222 Sargent Drive, city officials said.

The space is the former home of the Long Wharf Theatre, which first debuted in 1965 and closed for good in late 2022. The company moved its administrative operations to a new location on Audubon Street.

The Insa lease had been in the works for some time, but was delayed due to a clerical zoning error that is being resolved by the city Board of Alders, Economic Development Administrator Michael Piscitelli said.

Originally, it was the city’s intention to allow this type of use in parts of the Long Wharf area, Piscitelli said, but it was prohibited until the clerical error could be resolved.

With the correction approved, Insa will begin the process of filing for its special permit to operate the dispensary at Long Wharf.

Representatives from Insa could not be reached for comment on further lease terms or timeline for opening the site.

Piscitelli said the Long Wharf Food Terminal, established in 1961, remains one of the state’s leading food service and distribution centers, and has been thriving with a number of longtime businesses, including small local and craft companies, supplying food and products to Greater New Haven and all of Connecticut. 

This lease will repurpose the vacant theater space and further help support the financial viability of the Food Terminal area, he said.

The terminal enjoys key proximity to Interstates 95 and 91, and employs at least 600 local workers, city economic officials said.

The area is flanked by new development, including the new Hotel Marcel at 500 Sargent Drive in the iconic Pirelli Tire building, and plans are in the works for a new residential tower at 585 Long Wharf Drive in the former Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale restaurant overlooking the harbor.

A $160 million federal infrastructure program announced last year will further enhance the Long Wharf area and future development. 

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