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 The Gibraltar Trade Center, on North River Road in Mount Clemens, is one of two city sites approved to host medical marijuana processing and sales.

The Gibraltar Trade Center, on North River Road in Mount Clemens, is one of two city sites approved to host medical marijuana processing and sales.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

Former Gibraltar, Kraatz sites to house medical marijuana

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published June 21, 2019

MOUNT CLEMENS — The former Gibraltar Trade Center building and the former Kraatz Florist site in Mount Clemens will be used for medical marijuana purposes, city officials confirmed this month.

The revelation comes just six months after the Mount Clemens City Commission in December 2018 approved allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the city in commercial or industrial areas.

Last month, a three-member review board appointed by the commission — the board comprises three city department heads — reviewed and approved two medical marijuana license permit requests.

The first is for James George, the owner of the 600,000-square-foot Gibraltar site on North River Road, who received a provisional license to grow, dispense and process medical marijuana. The second has been awarded to Hani Kassab, who received approval to grow and dispense medical marijuana at the old flower shop site on Groesbeck Highway. Both businessmen have received a license from the state.

Mount Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey said medical marijuana licenses were due to the city by May 1, and that they eventually received 13 applications, which brought in $65,000 in fees. The permits have to be reviewed and approved by the city annually.

Dempsey said Kassab plans to construct a new building at the old Kraatz site, and the plan at Gibraltar “will be a total rehab.” Just how much the city is poised to gain financially isn’t known until all work is completed.

“We have to wait and see what the buildings are assessed at once they’re built out,” she said.

Concrete plans for either site have not yet come to the city for review, Dempsey said, though she did confirm that a $12 million-$15 million investment is planned at Gibraltar, the former weekend public market that closed in 2017. The Kraatz site has stood vacant for more than 15 years.

Neither George nor Kassab could be reached for comment by press time.

The issue of permitting medical marijuana facilities to operate in cities or townships has been a hot topic of debate in local governments as well as across Michigan in recent years.

Most recently, Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon announced on June 13 that he will not bring forth an ordinance to permit medical marijuana facilities within township borders.

Cannon himself has hosted two public forums to gather information and distribute it to the public via medical experts, attorneys and local school district representatives. The forums have discussed the ramifications of potential facilities for both medical and recreational marijuana.

“We are pleased to hear that Supervisor Cannon has made the decision to set this issue aside, as it has been clear throughout the public conversation that this is not something our community wants or needs,” Fraser Public Schools Board of Education President Laura Edghill said June 13. “This decision is a step in the right direction towards a bright and healthy future for all our citizens, particularly our young people.”

The supervisor said he looked at various geographic areas of the township where potential facilities could have made economic and physical impacts, such as in the area of Metropolitan Parkway and Groesbeck Highway, where plenty of available square footage exists and owners could theoretically invest millions of dollars into the community.

Cannon said such areas that could generate fees and redevelopment could make $17 million, for example, and make the area “worth so much more.”

“We’re going to miss out on that (extra money),” Cannon said. “There’s more than one way a community makes money.”

Staff Writer Nick Mordowanec contributed to this story.