How to Find a Site for Your Cannabis Facility in New Jersey

Evaluating Risks and Opportunities

The Tri-State area is experiencing a licensing rush for adult-use cannabis businesses.

In the first month since New Jersey began accepting applications for cannabis cultivation business licenses, about 300 applications were received, most of them for a conditional license—a foot in the door to build up all the aspects required for a successful cannabis business.

Newly legal Connecticut began accepting adult-use cannabis license applications this month, and New York is quickly expanding its robust adult-use cannabis industry framework.

And with federal legislation steadily moving toward legalizing banking for the cannabis industry, the potential for both large and small cannabis operations to enter the market is significant.

Retail license applications in New Jersey will be accepted on a rolling basis next month. The businesses best positioned for faster licensing are the alternative treatment centers already operating under a medical cannabis license. However, those centers will only meet part of the demand; there is room for new vertically integrated cannabis businesses to enter the New Jersey market.

The Land Rush

In New Jersey, Art Hance has two kinds of clients with the same problem – finding land.

“We have clients wanting to build cannabis facilities and clients looking to build non-cannabis facilities, and they’re struggling to find sites because we are located in a very built environment,” says Hance. “Finding cannabis-appropriate sites in particular is a little like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities (each having their own ordinance regarding cannabis), only about one-third of them have opted in to allow cannabis businesses operations within their jurisdictions, and there is no guarantee that other municipalities will make way for cannabis operations any time soon.

So where is the best place for an owner search for land?

“For cannabis business owners, because of the regulations they face, I've been recommending that they concentrate on the 30% of towns that have opted in to allow cannabis operations,” says Hance. “And for non-cannabis business owners, I say look at the other 70%--because there's a land rush right now in the cannabis towns and municipalities.”

Let’s compare the options an owner should keep in mind when searching for a cannabis facility site in New Jersey.

Developing Land for Cannabis

Customizing an undeveloped site has its advantages and disadvantages.  The major benefit is the ability to design and build the new facility to an owner’s specification from the ground-up.

However, along with the challenge of locating an available facility site for any type of business, owners are faced with the added investment of developing the land to support the operation.

“The biggest challenge with a green field is that you've got to start from scratch,” says Hance, “getting all the approvals, bringing in all the utilities, etc. Whereas, if you have a factory that has already had power and water and sewer, that's a real advantage.”

For a cannabis business, assuming it is in a location that allows for it to be built, the utilities and waste management required to operate the facility can be significant

“The utility needs of cannabis are often much more than most people realize, and significantly more than most other uses,” says Hance. “Getting permits for some of these utilities can take up to five years.”

How exactly does a cannabis business owner know what to look for in a site? “That is where we can step in, to assist with local approvals, design and construction,” says Hance. “As a New Jersey construction company, we bring years of local experience and a portfolio of completed cannabis projects to help owners plan their cannabis facilities.”

Redeveloping an Existing Facility for Cannabis

Redeveloping an existing building for a cannabis operation can be both economical and readily available for development within cannabis business-friendly municipalities.

However, with an existing building, Hance warns, it’s wise to temper expectations and plan around obstacles. “It’s rare to find an existing facility that won't compromise your operational efficiency somehow; you might be building around columns or be limited with the height…and those inefficiencies are going to be experienced every day that you run the facility.”  

But in the right hands, renovating and repurposing a facility can be a great success. 

One such case study is a cannabis dispensary Hance Construction designed and built in Warren County, NJ. As described on the project profile page:

We brought our customer’s vision to life by turning a beautiful 100+ year old building into the Cannabis Dispensary...Our team upgraded everything within the building, including all electrical and mechanical components. We also made the building safer by remediating water damage and replaced the building’s outdated windows with modern windows that still reflected the structure’s original era and charm.

How to Find a Site for Your Cannabis Facility in New Jersey

Whether you choose to develop land or redevelop an existing building, there are challenges with either scenario.

Finding a site for your cannabis facility in New Jersey boils down to knowing the type and size of your operation and your long-term goals. 

Art Hance suggests first exploring the possibilities. “Once you’ve scoped out some places and municipalities of interest, give us a call and have a conversation about site selection, and whether to pursue that site for your specific cannabis business.”

“We've been identifying sites,” says Hance, “and are developing several properties specifically for cannabis uses with options for Build-to-Suit or outright sale. So, the possibilities are out there.” 

Let’s Plan Your Facility

Hance Construction is here to support your success. Let us know if you are in need of a site, assistance with local approvals, or design and construction.

Serving the Tri-State area with over 30 years of experience in construction and design, Hance Construction is AC-478 accredited and is the leading builder of cannabis facilities in New Jersey.

To get started on your plan, contact us online or call 908-835-3501 today.