2704 Harlem Ave., Riverside, looking south (Bob Uphues/Editor)

A plan to bring an adult-use cannabis dispensary to Harlem Avenue in Riverside appears to be back on track after the state of Illinois issued 177 conditional cannabis dispensary licenses that had been held up for months due to a lawsuit challenging how the licenses were awarded.

On July 22, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced the issuance of 149 licenses, among them one for Mint IL LLC, whose owners are looking to convert a commercial property at 2704 Harlem Ave. into a retail cannabis dispensary.

Mint IL, also known as Mint Cannabis, had planned on buying the property early in 2022, but the delay in issuing the conditional licenses held up the deal. The sale of 2704 Harlem Ave. was to be part of a transaction that would also involve the village of Riverside selling the property at 2710 Harlem Ave., which is immediately south of the proposed dispensary location, to Dr. Milad Nourahmadi.

Nourahmadi presently owns 2704 Harlem Ave. and the strip mall at 2720 Harlem Ave. The village-owned property sits between the two parcels, and Nourahmadi wants to acquire it to increase the size of the strip mall’s parking lot, which will have some parking spots set aside for the dispensary, which has its own parking lot.

Riverside plans on using the opportunity to improve the appearance of the streetscape along that stretch of Harlem Avenue, including adding attractive welcome signage to the intersection of Harlem Avenue and Longcommon Road, a busy village gateway.

The delay in issuing the conditional licenses led the village in June to extend the deadline of its sales agreement for 2710 Harlem Ave. with Nourahmadi, who extended his deadline to sell 27014 Harlem Ave. to Mint Cannabis until Sept. 15.

Now that Mint Cannabis has its conditional license, Nourahmadi said the wheels are back in motion for the dispensary to become a reality.

“That was one of the biggest barriers,” Nourahmadi said of the conditional license delay. “I absolutely am way more optimistic of getting a deal done.”

Mint Cannabis managing director Omar Fakhouri did not respond to the Landmark’s attempts to reach him by phone and text.

Nourahmadi said his understanding was the Mint Cannabis was in the process of completing requirements for obtaining approval to operate the Riverside dispensary.

According to a July 22 memo to conditional license holders from the IDFPR, the awardees have 180 days to build out the dispensary in order to receive approval.

That process includes, among other things, providing IDFPR with an address for the dispensary, completing officer applications, obtaining any zoning approvals, confirming a floor plan and paying the $60,000 adult-use cannabis dispensary license fee.

Mint Cannabis will not need any additional zoning relief to allow a dispensary at the 2704 Harlem Ave. site. When village trustees voted to create zoning rules for dispensaries, they made such businesses permitted by right within Harlem Avenue’s commercial districts.

All the state will need to do is sign off on the location, which adheres to the state’s rules, and the dispensary floor plan, conduct background checks on Mint Cannabis’ officers, and conduct a final inspection of the dispensary before approving the full license.