In recent days momentum has grown for the Bronx’s legal cannabis industry. By fall 2023, the former Mott Haven Bar & Grill location at 2412 Third Ave. is primed to become the South Bronx’s first legal recreational cannabis dispensary, the Bronx Times has learned.
Construction at the site, according to CannaSummit CEO Michael Montes, will begin sometime next week, after receiving majority approval from Bronx Community Board 1 at their general board meeting Thursday.
“Plans are that construction will begin this upcoming week, and we just wanted the community’s approval. We want to work with the community, not against the community,” Montes told the Bronx Times. “We want to answer (community) concerns over details on how it would be operating, safety measures, operating times, security camera footage … and we answered all their questions.”
Both CannaSummit and CONBUD, which is hoping to also open a Manhattan cannabis retail storefront in early fall 2023, will be co-operators of the Mott Haven dispensary.
One of the co-founders of CONBUD is Alfredo Angueira, who founded Hoodspitality Group, a Bronx-based marketing agency which owns and operates multiple eateries in the South Bronx.
After months of wondering when and where the first legal retail dispensary would break ground, two Bronx dispensaries could be contributing to the state’s nascent green industry, which has made more than $16.5 million in sales to date, by summer’s end.
On Tuesday, plans by cousins-turned-business partners Levent Ozkurt and Denis Ozkurt to open an Allerton-based dispensary, New York City Cannabis Emporium, pushed forward, despite no recommendation from Community Board 11. Construction at the 2460 Williamsbridge Road is already underway, and could be finished in “two months” time, Levent Ozkurt told the Bronx Times in a previous interview.
There are 13 open and operating legal dispensaries statewide, with four of the six NYC-licensed recreational dispensaries located in Manhattan. Of those six dispensaries, three are justice-involved, while the other three are run through nonprofits.
One of the issues raised by Bronx Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensees was a lack of available or desirable real estate locations in the borough. Both retail locations of the soon-to-be dispensaries are privately-owned.
Levent Ozkurt bought the Williamsbridge Road property with his wife Mane Kulic Ozkurt (who manages the building and is not involved with the dispensary) in April 2018. The three-story 2412 Third Ave. location has been under the ownership of 1 BRUCKNER, and had been vacant since the bar and grill closed its doors in June 2021.
While 15 other applicants have also been granted provisional dispensary licenses for the Bronx, only two have site locations approved by the state Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), though they haven’t submitted to their corresponding community boards yet, according to the OCM spokesperson.
The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), an agency that typically provides financing and construction for schools and hospitals, is tasked with finding locations and building them out for CAURD applicants. DASNY will sign a lease with the landlord, and sublease the location to the applicant.
Due to real estate issues that have arisen during the state’s legalized cannibas rollout, the state is now allowing CAURD applicants to find their own real estate instead of waiting for a DASNY location. Retail cannabis dispensaries must be located a specified distance away from houses of worship, school grounds and other dispensaries.
New York’s rollout is far from the first in the U.S., but is uniquely championed by the state’s cannabis leaders for being the first legal rollout to prioritize justice-based individuals — those harshly impacted by cannabis enforcement and convictions — into future operators in a potential billion-dollar industry.
According to a decade-long study of cannabis arrests by NYC police precincts, several in the Bronx accounted for some of the city’s highest marijuana arrest rates over the last 10 years. However, both Allerton in the NYPD’s 49th Precinct and Mott Haven in the 40th Precinct were not listed among those.
— Aliya Schneider contributed to this report
Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes