A cannabis draw: Another mill building sells in Holyoke

  • An investment holding company run by the CEO of the Michigan cannabis company, Emerald Growth Partners and Pleasantrees, bought the Sonoco Products Company building at 111 Mosher St. for $3 million last month. CITY OF HOLYOKE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/5/2020 10:59:31 AM
Modified: 11/5/2020 10:59:19 AM

HOLYOKE — Another marijuana company has bought an old mill building in Holyoke’s industrial area, the latest in a string of industrial real estate deals that cannabis companies have made in the Paper City.

Some are betting on a new economic identity for Holyoke as the “Rolling Paper City.”

“I think it’s really exciting that we have all of this marijuana manufacturing coming into the city,” said Rebecca Lisi, an at-large city councilor.

In the latest transaction, which closed last month, an investment holding company run by the CEO of the Michigan cannabis company, Emerald Growth Partners and Pleasantrees, bought the Sonoco Products Company building at 111 Mosher St. for $3 million, according to a property deed transfer printed in the Gazette.

Randall Buchman, the CEO of Emerald Growth Partners, did not respond Wednesday to a message requesting comment for this story.

“It’s kind of exciting to see these big firms from other states coming into Massachusetts and saying the best place to do business is Holyoke,” Marcos Marrero, the city’s director of planning and economic development, said of the purchase.

The mill building is just the latest in a string of industrial real estate deals that cannabis companies have made in the Paper City, where some are betting on a new economic identity as the “Rolling Paper City.”

In February a 76,000-square-foot mill property sold for $1.1 million to Mao Moon LLC, an investment property company connected to Exotica Farms LLC, which has applied for a special permit to operate a marijuana manufacturing facility at the location.

In June 2019, Trulieve Cannabis Corp. of Florida bought the 126,000-square-foot building at 56 Canal St. for $3.5 million, property records show. That came after Illinois company RISE Holdings, previously known as GTI, in 2018 opened a medical marijuana facility on Appleton and Canal streets in a 45,000-square-foot former mill building it spent $8 million renovating.

There has been a rush of cannabis industry activity in Holyoke since 2018. The city has more applications/licenses in pending or approved status than any other municipality in the state, according to data from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. With 33 approved licenses, that’s higher than the next highest cities of Worcester and Fitchberg, which respectively have 27 and 25.

Businesses that operate in the city need to secure a special permit from the city. That process moves through the City Council’s Ordinance Committee, which Rebecca Lisi chairs.

She said manufacturing is a good fit with the city’s existing building stock, such as its mills, and that the industry is bringing more jobs and traffic into the city’s urban core.

Marrero said that so many companies want to set up shop in Holyoke because of cheap electricity prices, a standardized regulatory approach, support of the industry from City Hall and the City Council, and the benefits those companies expect from locating in a cluster with others in the same industry.

“In terms of these big industrial spaces, they’re being gobbled up very quickly, which is not a bad thing,” he said.

The cannabis industry is continuing to grow in the state. On Tuesday, Massachusetts surpassed more than $1 billion in gross sales since the first two adult-use stores — including New England Access Treatment in Northampton — opened on Nov. 20, 2018, according to the Cannabis Control Commission.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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