| Journal Star
PEORIA — A new era might be coming soon regarding recreational-cannabis availability in one section of North Peoria.
The University Square Shopping Center has been proposed for the site of a new cannabis dispensary. NuEra Cannabis would operate the dispensary in the strip mall near the northwest corner of Glen Avenue and University Street.
Formerly known as NuMed, NuEra operates three dispensaries in Illinois, including one at 504 Riverside Drive in East Peoria. Recreational and medicinal pot and cannabis products are sold there.
But the proposed Peoria facility would be intended for recreational sales only, according to Laura Jaramillo, the NuEra director of special projects.
“We started with a very medical focus,” Jaramillo said. “We now have transitioned to adult use.”
Medical-pot customers who patronize the proposed NuEra store in Peoria would not be eligible for state tax breaks they usually would receive, according to Jaramillo.
The dispensary is to fill a 5,345-square-foot space that once housed Catherines clothing store, at the far-west edge of the strip mall.
A dental clinic and the Friar Tuck Beverage store are among other University Square tenants. Jaramillo said those businesses are compatible with NuEra.
“It’s a similar profile and needs in terms of the people who would be frequenting those locations,” she said. “This is, we think, a location that’s really well suited for what we’re hoping to do.”
NuEra estimated between 12 and 20 full-time jobs would be connected with the proposed dispensary. The company also estimated about $35,000 in municipal tax money would be generated each month, based on $500,000 in sales.
Jaramillo said the revenue estimates were conservative.
The proposed dispensary is about 1.5 miles east of another recreational-oriented one. Trinity Compassionate Care Centers operates a dispensary at 2301 W. Glen Ave. It opened last July, almost seven months after recreational-pot sales became legal in Illinois.
Having two recreational dispensaries in such proximity doesn’t sit well with at least one resident of Bevalon Place, a street that borders University Square to the west.
“This is too much for our quiet neighborhood,” Bonnie Rubin wrote in a letter to the municipal community-development department, according to Leah Allison, a senior planner for the city.
Members of the city Planning and Zoning Commission appeared most wary about the proposed dispensary’s effect on area traffic.
By a 6-0 vote during a meeting last week, the commission recommended the City Council approve NuEra’s plan. The council is expected to consider it Jan. 26.
Still, some commissioners suggested at least one traffic access point to the shopping center is too close to the University-Glen intersection, one of the busier ones in Peoria. That access point is along Glen Avenue, just west of the junction.
“I don’t know if we’re doing an adequate job of trying to protect the safety of our citizens,” said Mike Wiesehan, the commission chairman.
Allison said the city public-works department signed off on the NuEra proposal.