Seemingly Fair Real Estate Deal Raises Concern Among Flint Locals
Well...isn't that ironic.
As reported by Mlive.com, a previously closed police station in Flint will now be converted into a facility that grows marijuana commercially.
To be more accurate, the building was actually a police training academy but it still made me laugh out loud when I read the title. However, it seems that this transformation is causing a bit of conflict within Flint's city council.
The council's vote was split 5 to 4 in favor of selling this building to the commercial grower, Evergrow LLC. The issues aren't over the fact that the building will be used to grow marijuana, which is allowed, but that the sale seemed a bit too hush-hush.
Evergrow LLC made a $500,000 bid for the former police training academy and, as far as bidding goes, it seems they will be the winner. However, another bid of $20,000 was made by someone who also had plans to build a marijuana grow facility. But, when that person, who is represented by Flint attorney Brenda Williams, tried to make their bid they were told by the city that they could not accept because the property had not yet been listed for sale. At least according to Williams.
Council members who opposed the sale gave reasons such as the fact that the listing wasn't made public on multiple platforms and that it wasn't listed for more than 7 days before the bid from Evergrow was accepted. Council member Jerri Winfrey-Carter went as far as saying,
There has been some back-door deals made.
I believe the reasoning behind these objections is that it didn't give enough people time to make competing bids.
Here's the part that made gave me pause...
To make matters more questionable, the losing bid of $20,000 belonged to a person of color. Winning the bid would have made them the first Flint local who is a person of color to own a grow facility of, "a substantial nature." Williams also said that her client had expressed interest in buying this building years ago.
A simple google search will yield dozens of articles about this exact issue: a lack of diversity in Michigan's marijuana industry. From demands for taxes to be used to help disadvantaged groups be successful in the industry to general reports about the lack of diversity in ownership...this is not a brand new subject.
Looking at the broad picture it may be easy to say...hey the higher bid won. End of story. But, as the child of a hippie, I have to wonder why more consideration wasn't given to a local Flint resident instead of immediately selling to a business that essentially reads like a corporation. Wouldn't it be more beneficial as a whole to help your residents create something that will, in turn, benefit the community financially? Keeping the dollars within the community, as some would say?
Finding information on Evergrow LLC wasn't easy. I found no official website...just basic information on sites like michigan-company.com and bizapedia.com. And regardless of objections from Flint council members or my hippie ramblings, the sale to Evergrow was approved. They'll still need to acquire a growing license from the state of Michigan before they can proceed.
Once that is accomplished, the managing partner for Evergrow, Franko Sallaku, hopes to start construction right away and eventually bring in 15 to 20 employees that are local to Flint.