January 25, 2023
A former St. Brendan’s altar boy has returned to his old neighborhood to propose a retail cannabis venture for an empty storefront on Gallivan Boulevard and so far, his team has received the neighborhood’s blessing.
Rich Parsons and Michelle Foley of Surf’s Up Cannabis Ventures joined an online public meeting last Wednesday (Jan. 18) to detail their plans for the former Verizon store at 770 Gallivan, where they hope to operate an adult-use cannabis store.
It would be the first retail cannabis business in the area after another group was shot in 2020 by neighbors at Adams Corner, and for the 770 Gallivan site as well. A delivery-only facility is about to open on Neponset Circle in the old Sozio’s store.
Parsons, a musician who played at the first-annual DorchFest last summer, grew up on Westmoreland Street in Adams Village. His family has since moved, but at the meeting, he detailed his strong connection to the neighborhoods, including the fact that his father had taught religious classes at St. Brendan’s for 25 years.
“I’m proud to be a co-founder and owner and to hopefully open a business in my own neighborhood,” he said. “I’m excited to be a good neighbor and to give back to the neighborhood I grew up in and I’m still very attached to…To give back to this neighborhood is a gift…My experience over the last five years is that there is a tremendous benefit to having cannabis available through legal means.”
Parsons has worked in his company’s medical cannabis shop in Needham for the past five years after a 33-year career at Newbury Comics. Foley noted that they operate five shops in the Greater Boston area and have never had any complaints lodged against them. They said their operations have often been pointed to by the state Cannabis Control Commission as the “gold standard.”
Foley said they don’t have their own production facility, so they would source their cannabis from area growers. She estimated the store would bring in 100 to 150 customers per day.
The Cedar Grove Civic Association voted to support the proposal during a meeting last October, a vote that came out 61 percent in favor, and 39 percent opposed, according to the group’s president Steve Bickerton. The approval was bolstered by a mitigation agreement that calls for $110,000 per year going to the neighborhood over the next five years. They will also give neighborhood preference for any jobs at the store. Foley said they expect to have about 30 positions available.
“We’re satisfied with the community benefits package,” Bickerton said. “We believe they will be responsible operators…We are supportive of the proposal.”
He said the group had sent a letter of support to the Boston Cannabis Board (BCB).
Still, several people from the Minot Street area were not happy with the proposal, saying they did not support the plan in Neponset – with some referencing the controversial supportive housing plan now being discussed at 900 Morrissey Blvd.
Susan Kelly of Minot Street said she was one of the 39 percent opposed at the Cedar Grove meetings. “You are bringing too much into the neighborhood,” she said. “Leave us alone. We have young children that walk these streets. You make this sound wonderful and beautiful like they’re trying to do with us at the Comfort Inn [900 Morrissey] and we found otherwise…I absolutely want nothing to do with this.”
Parsons promised the building would be beautified and would be discreet, and even if no one wanted to go there, they would be proud of how it appeared. “There will be no dump at 770 Gallivan Boulevard,” he said. “It will be the best-looking facility you may never have to step into. We won’t let this neighborhood down.”
The process will continue as the operators will be meeting with the Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association soon, and then later have their hearing with the Cannabis Board.