Ron Hudson, whose Mr. McGooz Cannabis Products has been working with the city of Richmond Heights on a plan to purchase the former Villa and Casa di Borally party center buildings on Chardon Road for conversion into a one-stop medical marijuana cultivation, processing and dispensing facility, spoke about a new plan at Tuesday’s council Committee-of-the-Whole meeting.
“The courts are going to hold up the Borally building (sale) and we have no access to the building,” Hudson told the committee. “Every (Borally) family member is in court. The lawyers believe they’ll be litigation for at least two years.”
With the sale of the buildings held up, Hudson and his team of backers have focused on the Richmond Town Square mall property.
“We want to build a brand new building at the mall,” said Hudson, a Mayfield Heights resident and Marine veteran.
Following the meeting, Hudson said his company, now renamed AB Sellers Inc., wants to build a single-story, 10,000-square-foot building in the northeast corner of the mall lot. The space is mall-owned property used as overflow parking on the former Sears side of the mall.
“It’s really a better location for us. We need a space to accommodate high traffic,” Hudson said, predicting that if AB Sellers is granted a cultivation permit by the state of Ohio in June, the building will attract 2,500-3,000 customers per week.
Hudson said that constructing a new building will allow the company to build according to its needs and eliminate the modifications the di Borally buildings would have required. He is confident that his group will get a permit, as he added that state officials like the model of all three phases of the medical marijuana business being conducted under one roof, as he has proposed.
When asked if the mall lot would host a new, medical marijuana building, Richmond Town Square Manager Leisa Russell said, “We have no contract with (Hudson) yet.”
Russell said Hudson contacted her late last week with the idea. Hudson has been working with Richmond Heights leaders, including its building department and police, in working out plans. He believes that not only would his business be well-served by a new building, but that it would help attract people to the struggling mall.
When Hudson addressed council at the committee meeting, Councilman Frank Lentine questioned the need to construct a new building in a city that already has several vacant buildings.
Hudson told council that the mall, since changes were recently made in permitted uses there, is zoned for his business. Other vacant buildings in Richmond Heights, he said, are not properly zoned.
Council President Eloise Henry, along with other council members and city officials, recently traveled to Michigan to see Hudson’s operations there.
When asked her thoughts about a new building being constructed in the mall lot, Henry said, “I’m OK with it. I went to visit their facility in Detroit and and it was very professionally run and clean, like a medical facility.
“Our police chief (Gene Rowe) thinks it’s a tip-top operation.”
Henry said that the new building would be very close to her home’s back yard.
“I believed in it when it was going to be (on Chardon Road), so I still have to believe in it when it’s near my home,” she said.
The city has been working with Hudson as its officials believe medical marijuana will be a source of needed revenues.
Hudson said that if AB Sellers is granted a permit in June that construction on the new building could begin in August, and be ready for business the following month.
In other Richmond Heights news:
— Russell said that a new medium-to-fine-dining restaurant, Kevante’s, will open at the mall June 1. It will occupy a currently vacant space. The space was formerly home to Sub City, a sports bar.
Council, on Tuesday, approved legislation granting Kevante’s a liquor permit.
— Economic Development Director Christel Best said the city received a $50,000 Cuyahoga County grant.
The money will be used to make improvements at the Kiwanis Lodge at Richmond Heights Community Park.
Best believes the money can only be used to upgrade the lodge’s basement, which the city is attempting to use to attract more events.
The city, however, was recently denied a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant it had sought to add restrooms to the lodge’s basement. The CDBG is issued through the county.
Best said the plan now is to upgrade the basement — work that must be finished under the grant’s rules by this fall — attract more events, then re-apply for the restroom grants, showing that they are needed.
— Council approved legislation that will have the city seek an Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Nature Works grant so that all four of the tennis courts can be repaired and resurfaced at the community park.
Recreation Director Ken Stray said that one of the courts will possibly be striped for use as a pickleball court.
The grant would cover 75 percent of the project’s total cost. Stray said the project could cost between $18,000-$36,000.
— Council approved a resolution that will be passed on to JCPenney executives, hoping to change their minds about closing the Richmond Town Square store, as was recently announced.
Russell informed council last week that JCPenney may be receptive to keeping open the store if the city and its residents were firmly behind doing so.