March 26, 2023 2:53 pm

NORTHALSTED — The group that desires to open a weed dispensary in Northalsted is prepared to convert the old Town Hall Pub as quickly as the project gets the OK from the city, owners stated Monday.

Kevin Hauswirth, one particular of the dispensary’s 4 owners, presented plans for the project for the duration of a neighborhood meeting at the 19th District (Town Hall) Police Station, 850 W. Addison St.

Hauswirth was joined by the other owners, like Edie Moore, an Army veteran and leader in cannabis policy reform, and Art Johnston and José Pepe Peña, LGBTQ civil rights pioneers and co-founders of Sidetrack.

They hope to convert the former Town Hall Pub, 3340 N. Halsted St., into one particular of the only queer- and POC-owned dispensaries in the United States, Hauswirth stated. Johnston and Peña, who purchased the bar soon after Town Hall Pub closed at the begin of the pandemic, will be the dispensary’s landlords.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club ChicagoTown Hall Pub, 3340 N. Halsted St., closed in 2021 soon after its owner’s death.

The group hopes to present the project for the duration of the Zoning Board of Appeals’ subsequent meeting, Hauswirth stated. As with all cannabis shops, it would also need a unique-use permit from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and a state inspection.

“It does not need any zoning modify, just a unique-use permit,” Hauswirth stated. “If zoning goes nicely, then we are shovel-prepared and will begin building as quickly as we can.”

If authorized, the dispensary would be the initial to open in the Northalsted LGBTQ district. It would be across the street from Sidetrack, the sprawling gay bar that Johnston and Peña founded in 1982 as a 900-square-foot hole in the wall.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club ChicagoAbout two dozen Lakeview neighborhood members attended Monday’s meeting about the proposed weed dispensary in Northalsted.

The Town Hall Pub sign will have to come down, but a great deal of the building’s facade will stay the identical, Hauswirth stated. The only alterations incorporate employing the space’s north door as an entrance as an alternative of the south door, generating the front windows bigger to permit much more sunlight into the lobby and blacking out the windows, which is essential of all dispensaries by state law.

Inside, the dispensary is broken into 3 sections: a lobby, a sales floor and the safe, workers-only section, Hauswirth stated.

In the lobby, safety guards will verify all customers’ IDs, and staffers will ask folks to wait if the sales floor is at capacity, Hauswirth stated. Shoppers will be encouraged to spot orders on their phones if the line is backed up.

The second space, the sales floor, will have some goods on show along the walls and situations in the center, Hauswirth stated. These displays can be removed on higher-volume days or for the duration of the neighborhood’s street festivals to permit much more folks into the queue.

The sales floor also has registers exactly where folks can choose up their orders and spend in money or debit card, an ATM and a buyer restroom, Hauswirth stated.

Only workers will be permitted in the back location, which consists of the vault, a garage for deliveries, a break space and employees restrooms, Hauswirth stated.

“The complete location is safe,” Hauswirth stated. “So deliveries will come into the garage exactly where we’ll have a semi-safe space. It will come straight into the vault and as soon as you order your item, an employee will pass it by means of a window from the vault to the cashier and into your satisfied hands.”

Prospects will then exit by means of the space’s southern door, Hauswirth stated.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club ChicagoAlderman-elect Bennett Lawson discusses the proposed Northalsted weed dispensary for the duration of a neighborhood meeting Monday.

Alderman-elect Bennett Lawson, who attended Monday’s meeting, stated existing Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) “doesn’t see an issue” with the proposal. Lawson has been Tunney’s chief of employees due to the fact 2007.

“We’ve had the other dispensaries on Clark Street in two places and it ran really nicely,” Lawson stated. “Given the sort of website traffic that we’ve noticed and the size and security enhancements, we assume this is most likely going to perform right here.”

Tunney’s workplace did express issues about folks loitering in the alley behind the dispensary, which the group has addressed, Lawson stated.

The dispensary will have “no loitering” indicators in the alley, and employees will be educated not to hang out behind the constructing, Hauswirth stated.

One particular neighbor expressed their assistance for the dispensary as delivering LGBTQ folks a space to get weed goods without the need of obtaining to venture into Wrigleyville.

“It’s critical to have a neighborhood dispensary right here for the reason that a lot of folks who would finish up employing that dispensary — LGBTQ folks, in particular trans folks in this political atmosphere — are going to really feel much less protected going more than to Clark Street, in particular if it is a sports day or there’s a lot of bros out,” the neighbor stated. “I assume LGBTQ folks will really feel a great deal much more comfy at the Halsted dispensary in Boystown.”

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club ChicagoA sign notifying the public owners program to open a cannabis dispensary on Town Hall’s door.

Brainstorming for the dispensary began “many years ago” as a way to guarantee the future viability of the Northalsted business enterprise district, which is one particular of the country’s biggest LGBTQ enclaves, Johnston stated.

“Around the nation, the gay districts are disappearing quickly, and we are most likely one particular of the single most vibrant gay districts left in the United States,” Johnston stated. “Overall, our aim is to assume of the points we could be carrying out now to guarantee the future, and we see cannabis as one particular of these additions to the street that will assistance retain its viability.”

Johnston is also co-founder of Equality Illinois, the oldest and biggest LGBTQ rights organization in the state.

Peña has worked in Chicago’s gay bar scene due to the fact 1970 soon after fleeing from Cuba a number of years earlier, according to the announcement.

“Opening a productive, inclusive dispensary is about much more than cannabis,” Peńa stated. “It’s about the future of queer enclaves and protected spaces for marginalized communities. Making sure representation in business enterprise ownership is a significant aspect of the option to maintain our communities protected and guarantee progress.”

Moore, who got her begin as an advocate for cannabis policy reform when her mother began searching for health-related cannabis in 2016, is co-founder and initial executive director of Chicago’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and co-founder of the Illinois Minority Cannabis Company Owners Association.

Moore has been an outspoken advocate for criminal justice and Black and Brown ownership of cannabis firms.

“The ‘War on Drugs’ disproportionately impacted communities of colour, a reality that is even much more dire for LGBTQ folks of colour,” Moore previously stated in a statement. “Partnering with my good friends and allies, Art and Pep, brings with each other our shared commitment to equity, a passion for protected and accessible cannabis and a recognition of a will need for much more protected spaces in Chicago, in particular for queer people and folks of colour.”

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