Health Care, Nonprofits, and Real Estate

City OKs medical marijuana growing facility

Colorado-based Terrapin Care Station will operate in previous home of Kids’ Food Basket.

October 25, 2019
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Terrapin Care Station
Reconstruction of the nonprofit’s former site into a growing center will continue through the winter. Courtesy TCS

Colorado-based medical marijuana company Terrapin Care Station recently secured approval with the city of Grand Rapids to open a growing and processing facility in the former Kids’ Food Basket.

The new facility is being built out in the nonprofit’s former headquarters at 2055 Oak Industrial Drive NE. Terrapin also has a separate partnership with the organization in which the company will contribute financial resources and volunteers to KFB’s sustainable farming program.

“We chose Grand Rapids because of local ties,” said Peter Marcus, communications director for Terrapin Care Station. “Our compliance director, Ashley Rheingold, is from the area, and her parents still live in Grand Rapids. Once we started exploring Grand Rapids, we found a community that was warm and embracing.”

KFB moved into a newly constructed headquarters at 1300 Plymouth Ave. NE in August, the Business Journal previously reported. The nonprofit did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the partnership at press time.

Terrapin purchased the old 28,542-square-foot building for $1.4 million. The sale closed around the same time KFB moved into the new headquarters.

Reconstruction of the old site into a growing facility will go through the winter. Marcus said initial renovations are ongoing and are expected to run through early December. Construction of growing rooms will go through April 2020, and Terrapin hopes to be operational sometime in the spring.

The site will have to undergo a final state inspection before operations can launch.

The new Grand Rapids operation is intended only for growing and processing. Terrapin will later distribute to medical cannabis providers throughout Michigan based on a sales strategy the company said has been successful in Pennsylvania.

“In Pennsylvania, we have a sales director who works with various dispensaries,” Marcus said. “As every medical program starts to expand, there’s a massive shortage, so distributors are elemental to get patients their medicine, so that’s our goal.”

Marcus added Terrapin will explore the possibility of opening a Grand Rapids storefront as operations increase, but the company’s licensing agreement currently does not allow for it.

Terrapin Care Station has 250 employees throughout the whole company and plans to hire 50 more for the Grand Rapids location.

All operations from the Oak Industrial facility will be Michigan-focused, and the company plans to hire from the Grand Rapids area, Marcus said.

While plans are just now coming to fruition, Terrapin Care Station has been active in promoting itself in the Grand Rapids community for over a year, Marcus said.

“We don’t want to go to any community that doesn’t want us, so the first thing we do is go down there and see if this is something they want,” Marcus said. “It’s good to start with nonprofits because they’re already embedded in the community.”

Terrapin also was drawn to Grand Rapids because it is the second-largest metro area, next to Detroit, which Marcus said has an already saturated market.

Marcus praised the city of Grand Rapids for being deliberate in establishing its regulatory processes since Michigan elected to legalize recreational use in 2018.

The Business Journal previously reported the city approved a licensing ordinance for recreational marijuana facilities earlier in October. The ordinance establishes the framework for local licensing and regulation of marijuana establishments and facilities as authorized under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act and Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.

Medical marijuana facilities licensed under the MMFLA that already have special land use approval will be allowed to continue to operate medical marijuana-related operations under their existing SLU permit until the six-month period has expired, at which point, a license application will need to be submitted.

For Terrapin, local zoning restrictions are a boon to the business.

“There will be some restricted zoning, which is good because you’ll end up with only the best actors there,” Marcus said. “That left us with a lot of comfort.”

Terrapin Care Station was first licensed in 2010 in Boulder, Colorado. The company currently operates six dispensaries in Denver, Boulder, Aurora and Longmont, as well as a medical growing and processing facility in Pennsylvania.

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