Officials are expected to decide within days whether the Portage Caregiver Center will be able to remain in an Upper Peninsula mall – and expand into a closed JC Penney.
Portage Township’s Board of Trustees meets Monday, December 11, as it faces a December 15 deadline to opt into new state regulations for medical marijuana facilities.
Those state regulations are changing the outlook for providers across Michigan, even those licensed to operate until this month.
“It we don’t get our needed approval from the Township then the caregiver center has to close down possibly indefinitely on December 15th,” managing partner Tyler Ross said by email. “We currently have an approved zoning permit to operate, but because of the new state laws we need a new type of approval.”
Portage Caregiver Center opened in 2016 in the Copper Country Mall near Houghton. Ross came back before township officials in August – after the JC Penney closed, leaving another retail vacancy there – express his vision of expanding its operation.
Using the closed anchor store represents a use for the space that would be unique among struggling malls in the U.S., retail experts said.
But Ross said he has experience in adding value to under-performing real estate assets. He has no financial stake in the mall, but said he sees the opportunity there.
“In this facility we will be locating the headquarters of an international award winning extract and edible company who has products in 3-4 states,” he said.
His proposal for the approximately 34,000-square-foot store: 2,000 square feet as a dispensary; 24,000 square feet for cultivation; 5,000 square feet for a kitchen and extraction facility; and the rest will be common area.
“Besides the cannabis operation, we are considering opening other