RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Mayor Mike Stammel of Rensselaer says it’s about time his city got the chance to shine.
“For the longest time, the City of Rensselaer has always been called ‘the diamond in the rough’, you know with everything going on in Albany and Troy and East Greenbush around us,” Stammel says to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
That’s why he’s jumping at the chance to be first on the mark preparing for recreational marijuana sales. In August, the city council unanimously approved for a former storage facility on Rensselaer Avenue to turn into a marijuana cultivation and manufacturing plant.
“It’s an acre and a half per floor, so you can imagine growing an acre and a half of crop inside on each floor. I want to make sure that it’s going to create jobs for the Rensselaer residents, first and foremost that qualify, and I want to make sure that the tax base will be here, because this industry is so large that our city could use the millions of dollars that this would generate,” explains Bill Brayton, co-owner of Brayton Construction which owns the building.
Brayton says the top two floors of the facility were already under utilized, and so a conversation with others in the business industry led him to an interested party from California looking to expand recreational marijuana cultivation and retail. He says since the council’s approval, two more companies have come forward hoping to make their own business plays for the space.
“They of course see the benefit of the size, the location, it’s already zoned appropriately, the water service to the building, so in all they don’t have to start from the ground up. The fact that the city embraced it is wonderful, and it demonstrates to the interested parties that the city is willing to move forward on cultivation and would not opt out, as some other communities in the state already have,” Brayton explains.
“We are attempting to level the playing field with this cultivation campus as well, because the existing 10 medical marijuana companies in [New York], they are not going to be opening up their product to smaller, socially disadvantaged people that the state is trying to distribute 50 percent of the licenses to. So imagine you’re a dispensary owner who is a woman or a veteran, then you have to have somewhere to get your product from, so our cultivation campus will level the playing field for all the smaller entrepreneurs and make sure there’s an avenue where they are not locked out of the industry,” he further adds.
Mayor Stammel says several more business owners are interested in turning their properties into dispensaries. He says a third of Rensselaer is property owned by Amtrak and therefore tax-exempt, so it would be foolish to miss out on taxable income that could benefit riverfront development, trails, and improvement initiatives.
“You look at something like $20 million worth of sales a year. The benefit to the city would be about $1 million a year. This would benefit us a lot for doing all the other types of projects that people want to see their community do,” he says.
“Despite what your feelings may be on marijuana, the State of New York has made it legal so therefore it makes it competitive for anybody who wants to get that business,” he adds.
Now five months after the legalization bill passed, Governor Hochul kick starts the journey towards recreational cannabis sales on Wednesday, announcing her picks for top regulatory leadership. Stammel says finally getting the ball rolling is encouraging so small communities like his can plan and benefit.
“If they are definitely in favor of pushing this forward, which sounds like the state finally is, then by golly gee let’s do it and get it over with,” he says.