RIVER NORTH — A controversial plan to turn the old Rainforest Cafe in River North into a cannabis dispensary cleared a major hurdle Saturday when a city panel approved the project.
The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals gave the project a thumbs up amid a fight from neighbors who argue there are too many dispensaries in the neighborhood. There were also issues with the ownership of the group behind the plan, forcing them to bring on more diverse members.
The dispensary’s developers plan to do away with the giant mushrooms and jungle-themed designs at the closed restaurant and invest $7 million-$10 million. They’d have graffiti-proof walls with LED lighting, armed security guards and 55 off-site parking spaces, company officials previously said.
The plan has been controversial since Palatine-based Progressive Treatment Solutions proposed the dispensary — and had to go back to the drawing board after the Sun-Times revealed its plan was illegal.
State law bars early dispensary license holders from moving within 1,500 feet of another dispensary and prohibits medical dispensaries from relocating outside their assigned districts.
Credit: Melody Mercado, Block Club Chicago Consume Cannabis wants to open a weed dispensary in the old Rainforest Cafe building in River North.