Building Your New Dispensary: Avoiding Common Construction Mistakes as a New Illinois Licensee

So you’re planning a new Illinois cannabis dispensary – congratulations! Whether this dispensary is your entrepreneurial dream come true or you’ve been down this road before, once you confirm your license, you’ll want to begin building out your location as quickly as possible. Our teams, currently building dispensaries across Illinois and other States, can help steer you through the unique maze that is the Illinois cannabis construction process.

Building a new dispensary is not as simple as it sounds.  Dispensaries must offer the security of a bank branch, the compliance of a pharmaceutical company, and the aesthetic of a high-end retailer.

As Illinois-based experts in the design-build construction of cannabis facilities, our teams have been in the trenches building dispensaries, cultivation centers and processing labs since 2015, including a national flagship dispensary in Northbrook, currently under construction. We have been involved in more than 30 dispensary, cultivation center and processing lab projects in nine states since 2015. Currently, we are leading renovation projects that offer Illinois more than 35,000 new square feet of cannabis cultivation and dispensaries customized for the needs of both medical and recreational cannabis customers.

Here are a few ways you can jump ahead of the curve:

Differentiate the customer experience. Buying cannabis in a regulated dispensary should feel easy, welcoming and natural. Designing for the customer experience, creating welcoming sales environments, while remaining compliant with regulations, is where dispensaries differentiate themselves from the competition. One reason this is so important:  with strict supply chain rules in place, many cannabis products in Illinois are highly commoditized. If your product is a commodity, the customer experience becomes even more important.

Prioritize compliance or suffer the consequences. To maintain product supply and operational retail sales, stick to strict protocols and carefully follow building codes related to the handling, storage and distribution of cannabis throughout the supply chain.  In Illinois, building code inspections are unique to each municipality, with enormous differences from one community to another.  Be sure your design-build construction partner knows the right questions to ask, and the pitfalls that could come up at each inspection milestone.

Use a design-build approach.  Design-build integrates your design and construction teams from the beginning, reducing surprises and streamlining your budget throughout the process of envisioning and construction your dispensary.  When your architect and contractor are working together, you’ll find you have more time to focus on running your cannabis business, with less time spent in meetings about your space.  In addition, a design-build model allows for a single point of accountability. At CFC, we use our four-step design-build process to ensure alignment and high-touch customer service throughout your project.

Your contractor shouldn’t be learning on the job.  Your design-build construction partner should be respected in the industry and be able to speak to ‘tales from the trenches.’ While legalized recreational cannabis may be new to Illinois, there are companies like us that have been building for both medical and recreational cannabis for many years. You should never have to hear ‘let’s learn this together.’

Don’t let the pandemic get you down.  As an essential business, construction has been building Illinois cannabis facilities throughout the COVID-19 shut-down period and continues today.  With the right protocols in place, there’s no reason the construction of your dispensary can’t press forward.  To understand more about how our crews stay safe, you can read our National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) blog post from June 2020 on how to expand or renovate your cannabis facility while observing social distancing.

Choose a contractor with experience.  For nearly five years, CFC has worked with numerous cannabis companies, including vertically integrated multi-state operators (MSOs). “Partnering with CFC, we have been thoughtful about connecting the design/build process with our customer experience and compliance objectives,” said Mitch Kahn of Greenhouse Cannabis. “Together, we identified and solved potential issues early in the design/build process, so that the build-out is supportive of sales, security, and being good neighbors in our communities.”

Need more resources on the design-build dispensary construction process?  Here are a few suggestions:

NCIA PODCAST:

https://thecannabisindustry.org/podcasts/cannabis-facility-design-and-construction/

KNOW BEFORE YOU GROW:

https://rejournals.com/know-before-you-grow-secrets-of-successful-cannabis-facilities/

KEY SUCCESS FACTORS:

https://www.areadevelopment.com/construction-project-planning/Q1-2020/key-success-factors-for-building-cannabis-processing-center.shtml

While cannabis continues to be a fast-paced industry with changes on a daily and weekly basis, it’s no longer brand-new.  There’s no reason you shouldn’t have a guide who knows the right questions to ask and can keep you from repeating mistakes of the past.

For more information on working with our Cannabis Facility Construction experienced teams, you can request a consultation here and one of our team members will get back to you immediately.

Construction On Cannabis Dispensary Begins

Greenhouse Northbrook Rendering

Northbrook Patch | Jun 17, 2020 – Construction is underway on a new recreational and medical dispensary at 755 Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook. Cannabis Facility Construction, a national, full-service, cannabis design-build construction firm based in Northbrook, announced the news Tuesday. The facility will be run by Greenhouse Group LLC.

The Northbrook location will be a national flagship location for the brand, according to a press release. The site, offering nearly 10,000-square-feet of finished space, is the former home the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The vacant Marathon Gas station at 430 Dundee Road will be consolidated into one lot.

“As their preferred design-build partner, CFC has delivered multiple dispensaries for Greenhouse over the past five years in various states across the country,” said Andy Poticha, principal at Cannabis Facility Construction, in the release. “We are now especially excited to have this opportunity to build their largest flagship location right here in our own backyard.”

Read more at Northbrook Patch

Updates on our latest commercial builds

Our field teams have been very busy as they continue to make progress on several commercial renovations. Watching these projects come together has been an enjoyable experience; these behind-the-scenes pictures illustrate the complexity of the work that goes into making amazing spaces happen. We are looking forward to seeing these projects move towards completion throughout the summer.