High Street: Pot dispensaries eyeing leases on Mag Mile

Marijuana dispensaries are eyeing the Magnificent Mile and other high-profile retail strips. (Credit: iStock)

Marijuana dispensaries are eyeing the Magnificent Mile and other high-profile retail strips. (Credit: iStock)

Can marijuana dispensaries help alleviate the pain experienced by Magnificent Mile landlords? Some believe it can.

As Illinois’ recreational marijuana industry is set to go live Jan. 1, some dispensary license holders are considering opening shops on North Michigan Avenue and other high-profile Chicago retail strips, according to the Chicago Tribune.

In one case, a marijuana company is eyeing the 30,000-square-foot former Michigan Avenue Apple store, which has been vacant since 2017, according to the report.

The legal marijuana industry could be a boon to Downtown retail landlords, who have not been immune to the struggles facing the industry. The Mag Mile has seen near-record vacancy and falling rents, while the Loop’s retail vacancy is at a high not seen since 2011.

Not all landlords are eager to cash in on the legal weed business. Cushman & Wakefield has restrictions on its brokers doing marijuana-related lease deals, due to its federal drug classification, according to the Tribune.

To start, only the 55 licensed medical dispensaries can apply for recreational retail permits. State law will allow them to sell recreational pot at their current facility, or open a second location, according to the Tribune. Retail isn’t the only real estate sector that stands to gain a big boost from legal marijuana. Experts believe that Chicago’s already red-hot industrial market will only get more competitive once marijuana cultivation heats up in that state. [Chicago Tribune] — Joe Ward

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