Prolific, LLC is looking to open a retail cannabis dispensary at 684-702 Centre St. in the former 7-Eleven space.
CEO Eric Lawrence and Vice President Maya Gaul were on hand to make a presentation and answer questions and address comments from residents at a virtual city-sponsored meeting on July 19.
Lawrence, who said he is a “longtime Roxbury and Dorchester resident,” currently has an approved dispensary in Allston, and is seeking to open Prolific Cannabis in Jamaica Plain.
Prolific, LLC is an economic empowerment and Boston equity applicant, he said.
“Our vision at Prolific is to operate a sustainable, premium establishment that makes a social impact by providing living wage opportunities, offering full benefits, providing entrepreneurial mentorship, development, and we want to be able to positively affect those who have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition,” Lawrence said.
He also spoke about the company’s plan for diversity and inclusion. “We want to be able to create a workforce that really mirrors the communities from which we’re from,” he said. The team plans to hire residents from Jamaica Plain and Boston, especially those who are minority, women, veterans, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The team will also “source our materials from people who have also been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.”
In May, Lawrence said that Prolific signed a 10 year lease on the building at 684 Centre St. The former 7-Eleven has been closed for about two and a half years, and the space is about 4,000 square feet. He said that the team believes this is a “prime retail location” for a cannabis dispensary, because it does not have any buffer zone conflicts, it is not within 500 feet of a school, it’s located in a commercial zone within a business district, and does not have any direct residential abutters. It is also easily accessible via the MBTA and Bluebikes.
To incentivize Prolific employees to take public transportation to work, Lawrence said that employees will be provided with a subsidized T pass.
So far, the team has “connected with a lot of community organizations” like JP Centre/South Main Streets, which used the 684 Centre St. space in May for a small business entrepreneurial seminar.
“We want to continue to be able to open our doors to the community as we go through this lengthy licensing process,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence then spoke about other ways this business will help the community. He said that JP Centre/South Main Streets did not want to see the dispensary windows blocked off, but it is a Cannabis Control Commission mandate that people are not allowed to be able to see inside a dispensary from the outside.
As a compromise, Lawrence said that Prolific will construct a false wall behind the windows and will work with local artists to use the wall as a place to “display and monetize their work.” It will also be available for other small businesses in the neighborhood that do not have a storefront presence, he said.
The dispensary itself will feature between eight and 10 point-of-sale stations, as well as various security measures.
Customers’ ID’s will be checked at three points: upon entry, once inside the building the ID will be scanned with a machine, and at the point of sale the customer will once again have to show an ID. At the back of the building will be the vault and product receiving area (no deliveries will be made in the front of the building), a break room, and some office space.
Matt Skelly of engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill then spoke about customer count, parking, and traffic.
“Generally speaking, we would expect a lot of the customers for this site to be walking from their homes as is the same pattern of patronage to all the other commercial outfits on Centre St. in this area,” he said.
He said a safety analysis was conducted to examine the crash records for this area as well as pedestrian collisions.
“In our review of the site,” he said that the team was “unable to determine any specific improvements that would help mitigate any of the crash history we found.” Skelly said that “the dispensary is certainly not going to be out of context for that type of a setting.”
He also spoke about trip generation estimations based on national data, and found that there could be about 40 vehicle trips during an afternoon peak hour, and 61 during the peak hour on Saturday.
“Those numbers are considerably lower than the 7-Eleven,” he said.
A parking analysis was also completed, saying that they found that parking is generally 80 percent occupied. “Even at its most occupied” for the area around the site, he said that there were “at least 10 unoccupied spaces.”
In the nearby municipal lot, it was found that at least 14 spaces were unoccupied during high traffic hours.
Maya Gaul spoke about employment and community outreach, saying that since Prolific is a certified economic empowerment applicant, it is “focused on living wage jobs with full benefits” for Boston and Jamaica Plain residents that feature built-in pay raises and help with housing costs as well.
All employees will be required to pass a state and national background check as well as register as a marijuana agent and undergo responsible vendor training.
The dispensary will have 24/7 monitoring and a “rapid response system.” All producst will also be tracked to ensure it is not being misused.
All customers are required to comply with a “Good Neighbor Policy,” and no queuing will take place on the sidewalk—it will all be inside the store. Preordering will be available for customers to minimize the amount of time they spend inside the establishment.
She said that so far, the business has received 246 letters of support and 14 letters of support from businesses. She said that the team will continue conversations with those who have concerns about the proposal.
Additionally, Gaul said that Prolific’s location will “increase patronage to the surrounding area.”
Lawrence then addressed some frequently asked questions that have come up during prior community engagement.
He said that people have asked whether there is enough demand for this location, and he said that “we feel that there is…” and also said that there are “several studies that show communities that have cannabis dispensaries are safer communities.” He also said that people have wondered about how buying a home would be affected, and that there is a study that found that communities with cannabis dispensaries have had an increase in the value of homes.
Many people spoke in support of this proposal, saying that they would like to see another minority-owned business in the district. Some concerns were raised about traffic and parking issues.
In the chat, Richard Watson wrote: “My wife and I are in total support of the proposal and look forward to welcoming this new business endeavor into the neighborhood.”
Nicole Gunn, owner of Cada Dia Mini Cafe, said that “I would like to support this business for all that it’s done.” She said that she appreciated the detailed presentation that left her with minimal questions. She also said she supports the fact that Prolific, LLC is a miniority owned business, as Cada Dia Mini Cafe and Nickls&Dimes are “the only two Black businesses on the street” and she would like to see more.
Also in the chat, Juanito Santos said he supports the business and that the team has “approached me multiple times on Centre St” and “I love everything they are about.”
This meeting was one step in the permitting process for Prolific, LLC, and there will be additional opportunities for residents to provide feedback as the process moves forward.