February 13, 2020
Two brothers who run existing businesses in Fields Corner hope to add a cannabis retail shop in a now-vacant office building on Freeport Street to their portfolio. Brian and Jaison Chavez made their pitch to the Clam Point Civic Association on Monday evening.
The Chavezes have formed a new company – Massachusetts Citizens for Social Equity (MCSE) – and are seeking approval to open the business on the first floor of 43 Freeport St. just east of Dorchester Ave.
“Being residents of the community, we felt it was appropriate for us to be part of this new industry, said Brian Chavez, who owns and operates Antonio’s HiFi Pizza and Bosburger on the avenue. “Our goal is to provide safe access to anybody that chooses to purchase cannabis. And as your neighbor, we plan to have a business that is safe, clean, and secure.”
The shop would occupy 4,500 square-feet on the first floor, a setup that will require internal renovations. The building, owned by the Susi family, also includes on-site parking and an off-site loading area. Proposed hours of operation for the store are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily.
According to Chavez, the team plans to exclusively hire local applicants to fill roughly 20-30 positions.
Clam Point Civic Association members voted to approve MCSE’s initial proposal as it was presented at the meeting. The next steps for the team are to develop and file site plans with the city, establish a formal community process, and complete a community host agreement.
Some residents at the meeting did raise concerns about a different proposal to open a cannabis testing facility —run by Assured Testing Laboratory — on the third floor of the same building. Chavez said that the team isn’t concerned about any conflicts, as the businesses would be completely separate and serve different purposes.
Desiree Franjul, who has partnered with the Chavez brothers to plan the store, said the proposal would be considered under the city’s Cannabis Control Commission’s (CCC) Economic Empowerment program, a new category of municipal “equity applicants.”
Some concerns were raised over potential negative traffic impacts along Freeport Street and Dorchester Avenue, which are already heavily congested during peak hours. Chavez and Franjul said their team would commit to completing a traffic study as the process moves along.
“We don’t expect to have a traffic issue because [eventually] every neighborhood will have a dispensary. Right now, when you look at dispensaries and see long lines, it’s because those are among the first in the state,” said Franjul.
Another issue that residents brought up was whether or not the site, even with 24 parking spaces, will have adequate parking to accommodate customers. Some noted that the second and third floors of the building would likely also be rented out.
“I don’t think that there will be an effect on other businesses or in the neighborhood with those 24 spaces,” said Chavez. “That’s a lot more space than most of these types of businesses usually have for parking.”
Gregory Sullivan, a civic association member, recommended that the team seek direction from the property owners and come back with some more detailed parking information at the next meeting.
“It would be smart to also plan around how many spaces have been promised to the landlord to potential second and third floor tenants, because any type of ‘You take six spaces, I take six spaces’ could create conflict,” he said. “These cars have got to be parked somewhere. That should be addressed at the next meeting.”