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Fox Lake expects about $400,000 in annual sales tax revenue from a new cannabis dispensary and craft grow outfit planned for Route 12.

With 30,000 cars passing by its location every day, and its proximity to the Wisconsin border, the proposed business will be poised to do a large volume of sales, according to Fox Lake Community Development Director Donovan Day.

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“It will be like having another car dealership in town,” Day said, referring to the expected revenue.

Day said he estimates sales of $10 million to $20 million, which would bring in $400,000 to $800,000 to the village annually. Fox Lake will tax retail marijuana sales at 4%.

“We haven’t had a solid number from them,” regarding expected sales, Day said, referring to JMC Enterprises, the owner of the property at 90 S. Route 12, a former car dealership.

On March 10, the Village Board voted to grant a special use permit to JMC. The permit allows craft grow, retail recreational cannabis sales, on-site consumption and infusion. Infusion is putting cannabis into other products, including baked goods.

JMC plans to rent to cannabis grower and retailer Shermer Farms, according to JMC representative Chip Eldredge, but it all depends on Shermer Farms getting the necessary state licenses.

“We want to help really make this an anchor for a new development zone,” Eldredge said, adding that having a cannabis retailer on site could help spur further real estate development.

Eldredge said it will take about $4 million to retrofit the old car dealership building for the craft growing, retail and on-site consumption.

Eldredge added that if Shermer Farms does not receive licenses, JMC will likely rent the space to a different cannabis retailer. If so, he said, it will just be a retailer, not a craft grower and infuser.

According to Shermer Farms attorney Ryan McQueeney, the licensing decisions should come by July, and Shermer Farms plans to open for retail sales in Fox Lake by September, with its first crop from the craft growing expected in January 2021.

McQueeney owns Midway Dispensary in Chicago, a medical cannabis dispensary. He said he expects annual retail sales in Fox Lake of $25 to $60 million, which would result in tax revenue for the village of at least $1 million.

McQueeney added that over time, as more retail cannabis operations open up, each existing cannabis retailer will likely see decreased revenue.

“The demand is going to be there,” he said. “Price is going to go down.”

‘The best cannabis in the world’

According to McQueeney, the Route 12 location is ideal because of the high volume of traffic and the number of tourists who visit the Chain O’ Lakes area.

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“Fox Lake is obviously a very busy place during the summer,” he said, adding that it can see up to 100,000 visitors on weekends.

“Its location is unique,” he added. “Based on the population that we know uses cannabis, there might be (15,000) to 20,000 customers (per year) at the dispensary.”

McQueeney said Shermer Farms will likely add about 15,000 square feet to the current building. The craft grow operation will require 20,000 square feet, he said.

McQueeney expects the craft growing to be totally enclosed, without customers being able to look in. This is different from microbreweries, he said, where people can see the process. It is still up in the air whether customers will be allowed to view the growing.

“I don’t think the state is going to allow that,” McQueeney said.

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In addition to a busy location, McQueeney said the property also has a sunset view, lake access and room for future expansion. He added that he envisions in the future maybe adding a bandshell for concerts.

McQueeney said he hopes the dispensary will be part of an “entertainment-type district” in years to come, becoming a tourist destination for “people from all around the country.” He added the business will draw “high-end” customers, “not just your typical stoner.”

According to McQueeney, because of the testing and growing regulations on marijuana in Illinois, the cannabis here is better than anywhere else.

“It actually has the best cannabis in the world,” he said.

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