Star Buds partners celebrate opening of the new Riverside dispensary on Sept. 21, 2023 | Francia Garcia Hernandez

Owners of the new cannabis dispensary, brand ambassadors and some Riverside village officials joined the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Riverside’s new dispensary Sept. 21. 

“The closest dispensary to us is five to six miles away, so a dispensary wasn’t even here for the patients that need the medication and serving communities as a whole,” said Ahmad Joudeh, partner of the Riverside Star Buds dispensary. “We’re excited.”  

It is the second Illinois location for the cannabis company Star Buds IL, which owns another dispensary in Burbank and a grow and cultivation facility in Rockford.  

At its Riverside location, it will create 25 to 30 local jobs, Joudeh said. 

“We are a community-based and family organization,” said Tiffany Hightower, partner of Star Buds Illinois locations. The company is 66% Black and minority-owned, she said.  

The dispensary’s opening means a needed influx in sales tax revenue to the village of Riverside. The village will benefit from a 3% tax on all recreational cannabis sales, in addition to a 1% non-home rule sales tax, 1% Riverside Business District tax and a 1% state retail sales tax.  

A conservative estimate has been included in the 2024 budget Village Manager Jessica Frances told the Landmark.  

The village’s financial projections estimate sales tax revenue will increase by about $204,000 dollars in 2024, mostly from additional revenue generated by the dispensary and newly opened Sherwin-Williams store. 

Star Buds will also purchase the village-owned properties at 363-369 E. Burlington St. and 3320 S. Harlem Ave. The properties are located in the Harlem Avenue Business District, which collects business district taxes at a rate of 1% each. 

Earlier this year, Star Buds explored the properties as options to house their new dispensary. The company ultimately chose the current location as it required less time in renovations.  

However, the plan is to relocate the newly opened dispensary on Harlem Avenue to the properties they will own. Currently, the company leases the property at 2704 Harlem Ave. from Milad Nourahmadi. The leased property is a temporary location for the dispensary while the company builds a larger facility with its own parking lot at the properties it will purchase.  

Star Buds will invest about $2.8 million in purchasing and renovation costs, documents submitted to the village show. At the request of the village, the company will complete landscaping and signage improvements and install electric vehicle charging stations. To complete these, the village will provide a $90,000 incentive.  

It is expected the dispensary will bring in sales totaling around $156.5 million dollars over the period 2024-2034. Out of these sales, the company estimates it will create about $8.5 million in tax revenue for the village over the next 10 years. The property is also estimated to pay approximately $840,000 in property taxes over the next 10 years.  

Ballerine said it is a “fantastic” opportunity for the village to collect tax revenue on a property that currently generates none at the Sept. 21 board meeting, when the village board unanimously approved the property sale.  

Additionally, it is estimated it will generate around $50 million dollars in tax revenue for the county and state.  

In return, the village of Riverside offers a $1.7 million tax-sharing incentive over the next 10 years to reimburse Star Buds for lost profit related to business district taxes. The company will absorb the business district tax of 1% to keep prices stable across its different locations.  

It is expected Star Buds will demolish the existing building at 363-369 E. Burlington St. and build a new facility for their dispensary and another retailer. 

The sale of the properties, including the economic agreement between the village and the company, was approved by the village board at the Sept. 21 board meeting. After closing on the property, construction could begin in late 2023.  

Customers can select from a variety of cannabis products, including concentrates, edibles, flowers, pre-rolls, vaporizers, tinctures and accessories. Star Buds distributes several brands like Verano and Cresco, as well as its own premium line from Illinois-grown cannabis Kaviar.  

Customers who consume cannabis for medical purposes can get a 30% discount if they present their medical marijuana card upon purchase, Joudeh said.  

“Anybody who walks into our stores will feel the type of love and the type of care when we’re talking about our products,” Hightower said.  

The dispensary is located at 2704 Harlem Ave.