April 23, 2019

Northbridge OKs agreement for The Botanist's 100K-sq.-ft. cannabis production facility

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The Botanist currently operates a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Sterling.

The Botanist, the brand of cannabis dispensaries operated by New York-based Acreage Holdings, is one step closer to building what could be more than a 100,000-square-foot facility cultivation and manufacturing facility in Northbridge after town officials signed off on a host community agreement.

The company, which operates a medical dispensary in Worcester and has two others planned for Shrewsbury and Leominster, wants to build a facility on a gravel pit adjacent to the Riverdale Mills coated wire manufacturing facility.

The Botanist hopes to sell both medical and recreational products at all three dispensaries. The Worcester location at 65 Pullman St. opened in December.

James Knott, the founder of Riverdale Mills, is registered as the owner of the 26 acres of land the Botanist would lease.

The host community agreement includes two different payments: quarterly impact payments at 2% of the gross sales from all items produced at the facility and an annual fee of $3 per square foot of cultivation space. That fee will escalate at 2.5% each year.

To begin, the company looks to build 50,000 square feet of cultivation space and another 50,000 square feet of manufacturing space, though the actual building footprint could be larger.

Another 50,000 square feet of cultivation space could be added later.

The company operates a 36,000-square-foot facility in Sterling, but officials there have not taken kindly to the company, complaining of marijuana odor emanating from the facility. That town did not support state legalization in 2016 and passed a zoning bylaw to ban the recreational industry, but the company -- controlled by a different entity at the time -- had already been producing medical marijuana products at the site.

In February, Sterling town officials said they wouldn't support permits for the company to produce recreational products at the site.

Acreage is one of the largest multi-state cannabis operators in the country, and it could be poised for further growth outside of the U.S. after it announced a deal for a Canadian firm to acquire the company upon U.S. legalization. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner each sit on the board of directors at the company, which was valued at more than $2.5 billion on Tuesday.

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