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WRA approves lease with Cannabis Control Commission

December 14, 2018
Photo | File
Photo | File
Union Station will be the new headquarters for the Cannabis Control Commission.

Pending a Monday vote, the state regulatory body of the $1 billion Massachusetts marijuana industry will move to Worcester's Union Station.

The Worcester Redevelopment Authority, which owns the 103,000-square-foot transit hub, approved terms of a 10-year lease Friday, about eight months after the city responded to the Cannabis Control Commission's request for proposals for a Worcester headquarters.

The CCC will take its own vote on Monday on the lease for about 15,000-square-feet of office space on the second floor on the building.

According to the proposed lease, the state will pay the WRA $436,199.76 in monthly installments year one. That rent increases annually to just under $500,000 in year 10 of the lease.

Part of that space was previously occupied by the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission and engineering firm VHB, but both entities have moved within the last year.

Despite the months of negotiations between the city and state Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, a report from real estate firm Kelleher & Sadowsky on the potential uses for Union Station actually recommends against the CCC lease.

The report was not discussed in any detail, as the board opted to take it up at its next meeting, but WRA member Jennifer Gaskin made note of the suggestion, which instead calls for a boutique hotel at the building.

"While the Cannabis Control Commission at Union Station has and will provide noteworthy attention for Worcester, such a deal at Union Station, will be strongly antithetical to the ultimate success of the city's own Union Station Plan," the report said.

WRA member Michael Angelini said that opinion is now moot, considering the well documented efforts of the city to court a state office.

"Frankly, if those offices were in the middle of Main Street surrounded by a barrier, I'd still vote to bring them here," he said.

The WRA members said the CCC's new headquarters will help drive commerce in Worcester, as cannabis business license applicants from a large part of the state can take public transportation into the headquarters.

Worcester County has been the busiest county for such applications, with 54. The next busies county is Berkshire County with 27, according to the Cannabis Control Commission.

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