CONCORD, CA (June 1, 2021) – The city could have two storefront retail cannabis businesses open by this fall and another ready by early 2022, after the City Council selected three companies to apply for licenses.
Four council members named Authentic as their top pick at the May 25-26 meeting. Carlyn Obringer dissented. The council majority cited the freeway access to the 1045 Galaxy Way location, plus the dedicated parking at the stand-alone building.
“I think it was very clear that the location was ideal,” said Mayor Tim McGallian. “Also, I felt that their experience, financial position and overall business acumen was actually far ahead of many of the applicants.”
Authentic CEO Ryan Mitchell said the Shryne Group is the largest vertically integrated cannabis operator in California. The company grows, manufactures and distributes cannabis products and already has 13 retail stores.
Mitchell said the proposed retail store is “one aspect of a larger play” for the company, which was previously awarded a cannabis distribution license off Port Chicago.
“We plan to make Concord our Northern California headquarters – centralize our distribution, have corporate offices, our flagship store and our workforce development facility,” Mitchell said, noting that the store could open by January 2022.
A bit of Culture
The same council majority voted 4-1 for Culture Cannabis Club at 1440 Concord Ave. as the second selection – again noting the freeway access, parking and business plan along with security measures.
“We have a trusted safe and compliant reputation, with no citations and no complaints in any of our operating markets,” COO Devon Julian said of the network of retail cannabis stores throughout California. “We have worked hard to set ourselves up to be one of the best brands and companies to work with because of how we conduct our business.”
Concord will be Culture’s first venture in the East Bay, with Julian saying the store would be ready to open by November 2021.
Coastal’s plan for a retail store at 1847 Willow Pass Road in the Park & Shop came in third by a 3-2 vote.
“I believe we are one of the top operators in the state of California, and there are a few reasons for that,” said Coastal’s general counsel Cameron Gharabiklou. “We built our company for the long haul; we understand that each store must respect and collaborate with the local community; and we represent a premiere, welcoming but safe shopping space.
The company targets an October 2021 opening. “Coastal is ready and excited not only to move into Park & Shop but to be part of the Park & Shop revitalization,” community relations manager Keith Burks told the council.
Obringer and Council member Laura Hoffmeister voted for Embarc at 1770 Willow Pass Road, also in Park & Shop, as their third choice.
“I think Embarc had a better location, better security and safety plan to present to that community in that area,” Hoffmeister said.
McGallian disagreed. “I felt that Coastal had a better ability to have parking at that end of Park & Shop, and I felt the impact would overall be the least as related to parking. I also felt Coastal was stronger as related to business acumen.”
After hearing proposals from the top six applicants, the council voted Embarc in fourth position, MMD in fifth and Element 7 in sixth.
The top three businesses have until July 23 to submit applications for city cannabis licenses. Each business must also enter into a development agreement that will determine what contributions it will make to the city.
Questions about CoCo Farms site
May’s review of the storefront locations followed April’s selection of CoCo Farms and Infinity Concord to apply for cannabis microbusinesses licenses and Medusa Delivery as a non-storefront retailer that’s not part of a microbusiness.
Since then, several community advocates have contacted the Pioneer and the city with concerns about the CoCo Farms location at 2366 Stanwell Circle.
In a guest editorial, Emily Webb noted that the Concord Women, Infants and Children (WIC) office is less than 90 feet away and a county adolescent outpatient substance use treatment facility is 300 feet away.
“We think that it does not send a caring, considerate and supportive message to WIC clients and adolescents facing addiction,” wrote Webb, who is the coordinator for the Monument Youth Drug and Alcohol Coalition.
However, McGallian said that “technically, legally, those are not considered sensitive uses according to the state guidelines.”
He told the Pioneer that he expects that the CoCo Farms application process “would be fine.”
Bev Britton graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of North Dakota and moved to the Bay Area with her soon-to-be husband Jim in 1986. She was features editor at the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek before becoming managing editor of the Contra Costa Sun in Lafayette in 1995. She retired from newsrooms in 2001, but an ad for the Clayton Pioneer drew her back in. The family moved to Lake Wildwood in the Gold Country a few years ago - but working at the Pioneer keeps her in touch with her old neighborhoods in Concord and Clayton.