By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Who knew Lewis County was home to so many hoping to launch marijuana operations in a building they don’t own or lease?
Numerous entities have applied for licenses to grow and process cannabis, all at a soon-to-be vacant warehouse in the Chehalis Industrial Park.
It’s the old Circuit CIty building, a nearly 173,000-square-foot facility at 208 Maurin Road.
“I don’t believe the board’s aware of it,” Port of Chehalis interim commissioner Dave Muller said last week.
The Port’s board of commissioners probably wouldn’t take a position on such such an endeavor, but they focus mainly on dealing with those who want to purchase property – not rent – in the area anyhow, Muller said.
The warehouse in question is owned by CC Properties LLC, doing business as Chehalis LLC based in Des Moines, Iowa.
It’s a big investment group, according to the real estate agent who for years has been trying to sell it, and has managed its leasing in the meantime.
Vanessa Herzog, of Kidder-Mathews, said it’s news to her that there are more than 16 applicants who have told the Washington State Liquor Control Board they are based at 208 Maurin Road.
“It makes me really angry, whoever it is that submitted that,” Herzog said.
Herzog said she wasn’t entirely surprised however, it’s happened to her at least once already elsewhere, when she learned someone claimed they were opening a marijuana business in a location she managed in Lacey.
Locally, applicants with names such as Emerald Joy and Evergreen Trees are among the thousands attempting to get approved to cultivate, process and sell recreational marijuana in Washington following the passage of last year’s Initiative 502.
A 30-day window for applying closed last month and the WSLCB says it’s expects to begin issuing licenses in the next month or so.
WSLCB spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter says they are aware of the practice, that some folks have submitted addresses for buildings they don’t actually have control over.
“The licensing process is going to sort a lot of that out,” he said yesterday.
Investigators will conduct site visits and contact landlords for verifications before any are approved, according to Carpenter.
Carpenter said he suspects some are people who are scrambling, afraid they would be left out of the process.
The former Circuit CIty warehouse remains for sale, now listed at $6.25 million, according to Herzog. Cardinal Glass’s lease is expiring soon, she said.
Nobody has approached her to buy or lease it for a marijuana operation, she said last week.
“I was happy nobody had called me, because I didn’t want to deal with it,” Herzog said.
She said she’s put together leases already for marijuana businesses elsewhere, but she’s not that enthusiastic about doing it again, as it’s complicated.
Herzog couldn’t say with certainty that no one has been talking directly with the actual owners.
But it’s unlikely an owner such as a large investment group would be eager to get involved, she said, citing issues with banking and investment rules given that marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Dick Larman, executive director of the Lewis County Economic Development Council, said they have been besieged by people wanting to know about buying, renting or leasing buildings in the county for marijuana businesses.
But they too are not anxious to help promote the coming new industry.
Their stance is in line with the county government’s position, if someone can get the federal authorities to approve, then they would, he said.
He wasn’t aware of anyone moving in to the former Circuit City warehouse or anywhere in the industrial park, he said.
“I don’t know that anyone closed a deal,” Larman said. “It’s a fairly high bar.”
The list of those seeking licenses from the state published by the WSLCB contains business names, and locations but no phone numbers or contact information for the applicants.
The Chehalis Industrial Park, south of Chehalis and just east of Interstate 5, is situated in an urban growth area.
The city and the county have an agreement about which of the two are responsible for issuing building permits – that would be Chehalis, according to Dennis Osborn, the city’s community development director
As for business licenses, Osborn said he believes that would be up to the county.
“It’s a great question,” Osborn said yesterday.
It’s an issue the city will be taking up with legal counsel, he said.
Both have moratoriums currently in place regarding the marijuana industry.
For background, read “Marijuana central could be Chehalis Industrial Park” from Tuesday December 24, 2013, here