8863 Ogden Ave., Brookfield | Google Maps

A cannabis firm already working on plans for a cultivation center in Broadview and a dispensary downstate has submitted a special use application to the village of Brookfield to operate a cannabis dispensary in a vacant Ogden Avenue storefront.

The Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission later this month will conduct a public hearing on the application by The 1937 Group Ltd. to run a dispensary out of the building at 8863 Ogden Ave., which most recently housed a medical office but is probably best known locally as the former home of Bambino’s restaurant.

The hearing will be on April 27 at 7 p.m. in the council chamber of the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

In 2019, the Brookfield Village Board approved an ordinance allowing recreational-use cannabis dispensaries as special uses in the village’s commercial and industrial districts.

Special use applications trigger a hearing process where members of the public can provide comment before the Planning and Zoning Commission, which is tasked with making a recommendation either in favor or against granting the special use. The commission may also choose to impose conditions on the permit.

However, the village board will have the final say on whether or not to grant a special use permit for the dispensary. The soonest such a vote might be before the board looks to be late May, although it could come in June.

According to The 1937 Group’s website, its chairman and CEO is Ambrose Jackson, a longtime healthcare administrator. Jackson applied for and was granted licenses in Illinois to cultivate, sell and transport cannabis, and within the past month opened a cultivation center in Broadview and a dispensary in downstate Tilton, near Danville.

The company takes its name, according to the website, from the federal Marijuana Act of 1937 which was “fueled by widespread racial discrimination — leading to the weaponization of the cannabis plant against Mexican Americans and Blacks.”

A summary of the company’s plan for the Brookfield location, which was included with its special use application, also states that The 1937 Group’s chief legal counsel is a Brookfield resident.

The company’s website identifies that person as Sonia Antolec, whose signature appears on the special use permit application. Antolec was appointed a part-time judge on the Illinois Court of Claims by Gov. J.B Pritzker in 2021.

She previously was director of policy for The Mom Project and director of legal hiring for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Antolec said The 1937 Group’s goal is to obtain the maximum 10 licenses allowed in Illinois and build a company able to compete with larger multi-state operators, or MSOs, as they are known in the cannabis business.

“Ours plans are to be a disruptor for MSOs … and be a one-of-a-kind social equity MSO,” Antolec said.

Plans on file with the village indicate that The 1937 Project intends to buy the property if its application is granted, completely renovate the existing office building at the southeast corner of Prairie and Ogden avenues and demolish the single-family home at the rear of the property.

“It’s such a great location, considering the towns west of us are not opting in [to allow cannabis dispensaries],” said Antolec in a phone interview. 

The parking lot would be expanded to provide 22 spaces, and the southwest corner of the lot would be landscaped, including new trees. A new curb would run along the rear lot line to block vehicular access between the alley and the parking lot.

According to the application, a new curb cut is proposed to provide entry/exit into the rear portion of parking lot from Prairie Avenue. The company would like to eliminate the existing curb cut on Ogden Avenue allowing access to the parking lot. 

The Illinois Department of Transportation would have to sign off on removing that curb cut, since Ogden Avenue is a state highway.

The interior of the vacant commercial building would be converted into a retail sales space, with the main entrance on the east side of the building, opening into a controlled vestibule/ID check area. An interior door leads to a 358-square-foot retail space.

The exterior of the building will be coated with stucco and articulated by diagonally placed decorative wood battens, according to the plans, and a window opening on the west side will be filled in to create a large space for a mural. 

A steel canopy will wrap around the east and north sides of the building and new parapet walls on the east, north and south facades will screen rooftop mechanical units. The existing pole sign along the Ogden Avenue frontage would be removed in favor of a pylon sign.

If the planning and zoning approval process turns out to be a smooth one, Antolec said the company would like to open the dispensary’s doors in “no more than a few months.”