A recreational marijuana store could soon join the ranks of retailers in Boston’s historic Quincy Market, under new plans unveiled last week by a local businessman whose team includes several former top city officials.
If approved by local and state authorities, the pot shop — dubbed “Redemption Cannabis” — would open on the second floor of Quincy Market’s North Market building, above Lucy’s League athletic apparel store.
“We’re imagining we can bring a respectful, responsible, and discreet marijuana establishment to the family-friendly destination that is Quincy Market,” Redemption founder and entrepreneur Geoffrey Reilinger said in an interview Friday.
Reilinger spent years trying to open a medical marijuana dispensary on Newbury Street with a well-connected team of political insiders but ran into stiff opposition from some neighbors. That effort, called Compassionate Organics, was later sold to national cannabis firm Green Thumb Industries; Reilinger remains involved as chief executive.
Redemption’s ownership team includes Reilinger’s mother, former Boston School Committee chair Dr. Elizabeth Reilinger, and Alfreda Harris, who founded Roxbury’s Shelburne Community Center after serving as the women’s basketball coach at several local universities. Dan Linskey, former superintendent-in-chief of the Boston Police Department, will serve as the firm’s security consultant.
To open for business, Redemption will have to clear a number of hurdles, including winning an exception from a city rule that mandates a half-mile buffer between all licensed marijuana facilities; Patriot Care currently operates a medical dispensary on nearby Milk Street that is less than a half-mile from the proposed Quincy Market site.
“We think there’s more than enough room to go around in this neighborhood,” Reilinger said.
If the project receives local approval, it can then apply for a state license from the Cannabis Control Commission, a process that typically takes months and would set up the store for an opening sometime in 2021.
Reilinger said he reached out to Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., which manages Quincy Market, after noticing “for rent” signs while walking his dog through the plaza near Faneuil Hall. The company was interested, he said, in large part because the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the business of other retail tenants that rely on tourism and foot traffic.
“It’s no secret the struggle retail everywhere is facing, and being exclusively retail, Quincy Market was taking it on the chin pretty hard,” Reilinger explained. “But marijuana sales are thriving in this time, even when other stuff is really not.”
Quincy Market is owned by the city. A spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh declined to comment on the proposal, saying the public must weigh in first.
A virtual community outreach hearing at which neighbors may testify or ask questions is scheduled for Sept. 17 at 6 p.m.
Representatives of the nearby North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Boston recently overhauled its marijuana approval process under pressure from progressive city councilors who said the previous system was opaque, convoluted, and unfair to smaller applicants without political connections. As of this summer, applications are reviewed by the new five-member Boston Cannabis Board, which gives preference to equity applicants from communities affected most by the war on drugs.
Redemption doesn’t qualify as an equity applicant, but Reilinger said the company would make specific commitments to hiring staff from a variety of backgrounds.
“We’re really focused on having this organization reflect the diversity that is Boston,” he said.