A new and fancy medical marijuana dispensary soon could be setting up shop in downtown Scottsdale, the first of its kind amid strict city limits on dispensary locations.
The new shop, proposed by grower and dispensary operator Sunday Goods, would replace Club Tattoo, at 4255 North Winfield Scott Plaza. Its opening is likely to shutter the Christian Science Reading Room next door and force a nearby preschool to move elsewhere.
Sorry, toddlers and Christian Scientists and people wanting tattoos. Someone’s got medical marijuana to sell.
The 2,300-square-foot dispensary would be “a high-end retail experience that looks like something that might be found at Scottsdale Fashion Square or Scottsdale Quarter,” promises Sunday Goods' rezoning application to the city.
The project still has to clear at least two major bureaucratic hurdles. It needs to secure that rezoning approval, to downgrade zoning from one type of commercial designation to a less intense one, and it needs to secure a permit from the city to operate the dispensary. Reviews for both are expected this summer or next fall.
Fortunately for Sunday Goods, it has connections. Its spokesperson is Jason Rose (if the name of the local, infamous PR specialist doesn't already speak for itself, the linked story will). Its planner is George Pasquale, with the firm Withey Morris. Paquale's wife, Kelsey, was Scottsdale's planning commissioner until March, when she resigned amid conflict-of-interest complaints.
Sunday Goods already has secured a coveted license from the state to open a dispensary in southern Scottsdale. It swears in its rezoning proposal that “it was a stroke of good fortune for both the City and the Applicant that the Scottsdale South ... license was awarded by the State to Sunday Goods.”
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A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Health Services, which runs the state's medical marijuana program, did not respond to a request for comment.
In recent years, zoning and other restrictions have reduced the areas in Scottsdale where dispensaries are legally allowed. In 2016, the Scottsdale City Council changed the city ordinance to increase the required distance between dispensaries and schools, churches, public parks, and day cares from 500 feet to 1,500 feet.
Scottsdale currently has four dispensaries. Only one, Monarch Wellness Center, is close to the city’s southern end.
Sunday Goods is still in talks to purchase the space where the dispensary would go. Rose said he didn't know how much Sunday Goods planned to pay, but that the price would be made public after closing.
The company claims that because of the city's limitations, the place where it wants to build “may be the only viable site.” But even its proposed site poses potential problems.
A preschool is just a few feet away from the would-be dispensary, at 4221 North Winfield Scott Plaza. According to the permit application, Sunday Goods is working with the preschool “on a relocation plan.” Before the city allows the dispensary to open, either Sunday Goods will secure a variance to the rules, or the preschool will move elsewhere.
"There's ongoing dialogue," Rose said. He said Sunday Goods was "confident of a favorable resolution."
Next door to the potential dispensary is a Christian Science Reading Room. Sunday Goods’ application for a conditional use permit claims that this center “does not function as a ‘place of worship.'” It states that the Reading Room is vacating the premises anyway, and Sunday Goods plans to turn that space into a cafe or use it as a retail space. To clarify, via Rose: Sunday Goods is going to acquire the Christian Science Reading Room space.
According to the application, Sunday Goods has already acquired several key approvals from the Scottsdale Police Department, such as approval for its public safety plan.
Right now, southern Scottsdale is “severely under-served,” according to Sunday Goods, which already runs nearly three dozen dispensaries in Arizona — from Tucson to Phoenix to Show Low to Flagstaff — and more outlets in California. It also grows product in a nearly 7.5-acre greenhouse in Willcox.
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In its rezoning application, it tried to sell Scottsdale on the idea that a classy, boutique dispensary would be in keeping with Scottsdale’s tony reputation.
“Other higher-end, peer cities to Scottsdale, have welcomed upscale dispensaries to their ‘main-and-main’ downtown locations,” Sunday Goods said, citing Aspen, Colorado, Napa Valley, California, and Seattle, among others. “These stores are seen as a welcomed, boutique retail option to complement the other assets of their community.” It promised to build “THE flagship model for high-end, holistic wellness stores — a truly one-of-a-kind, Scottsdale experience.”
Meanwhile, the tattoo parlor currently on the lot, it said, “provides little connection or benefits to the surrounding context."
The Planning Commission should decide on the rezoning application “sometime in July,” said Scottsdale spokesperson Kelly Corsette, and the City Council should decide on the conditional use permit in August.