LANSING, Mich. — A Massachusetts marijuana company has opened a cultivation facility in a 150,000-square-foot industrial building near downtown Lansing.
Ascend Wellness opened the facility earlier this year at 735 E. Hazel St. The company has six cannabis retail stores in Michigan and others in Ohio and Illinois.
"We liked the fact that it was centrally located in the state, great for distribution," said Frank Perullo, the founder and chief strategy officer of Ascend Wellness Holdings. "It was in Lansing and what better way to showcase the industry than in the state capital."
"It was just a perfect opportunity and we took advantage of it," he said.
His company has leased the building from Innovative Industrial Properties, which owns several properties in the Lansing area that are being used by marijuana businesses, including the Harvest Park property in Dimondale used by Skymint and the former Summit Sports and Ice Complex.
Innovative Industrial Properties bought the Hazel Street building in 2019 for $4.75 million.
Ascend plans to grow marijuana there, prepare it for sale and package it. The company spent around $15 million on renovations.
"We started with cleaning up the building and making sure we don’t find anything that can harm the plants," Perullo said. "Then from there you create a floor plan to ensure you can meet the demands of the industry."
Keith Lambert, chief operating officer for the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, said the big change in demand for marijuana properties "came when recreational cannabis was authorized and that is when we saw a whole demand and a lot of money flowing in from out of state."
In fact, not even a mile away from the new Ascend cultivation facility is another cannabis operation. The former John Bean Building on Cedar Street was sold to Rehbel Cannabis for $3.5 million.
"Cannabis operators are taking up old kind of cruddy warehouse businesses," Lambert said. "They’re investing millions of dollars into these facilities and that didn’t really have any one else clawing at the door to purchase them and this is helping create jobs."
Ascend says they have already hired 100 people to work inside the cultivation facility and they plan to hire at least 200 more.
"You’re adding thousands of plants and, every thousand plants or so, you need a person to care for those plants," Perullo said, "and then there’s everything that follows that.you have to harvest those plants, dry those plants and you have to package that product. So the hires need to be made."
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