NY CAURD Applicant Wants Waiver for Location Near MedMen

Three brothers want to open a store in the Nat Sherman cigar lounge building.

According to the old saying, there are three things that matter in real estate: location, location, location. New York City is the densest of all fully legal cannabis municipalities, and trying to find an acceptable store that is not within 1,000 feet of another can be challenging.

Three Dominican-born, Queens-raised brothers want to open a dispensary and consumption lounge in the old Nat Sherman cigar lounge located in a prime spot in the city – on 42nd street near Grand Central Terminal in the heart of midtown Manhattan.

Unfortunately, the city believes that’s within 1,000 feet of the financially troubled medical-only MedMen (OTC: MMNFF) store on Fifth Ave. The Nat Sherman address is approximately 990 feet from MedMen, if you draw a straight line, but the walking path between the two is easily over 1,000 feet.

The brothers feel that the situation is even more unfair when considering they are social justice applicants that have been impacted by a multistate operator that is currently trying to sell its New York assets.

The Polanco brothers (all named Jose) were awarded a license as CAURD applicants. One of the brothers was arrested for possession in his youth, which allowed them to apply as a social justice applicant. While the brothers have been offered another space, they prefer the beautiful, wood paneled two-story townhouse they’re leasing.

“Media, local, and state elected officials – ranging from the New York City mayor to governor – in addition to civic and community leaders, have expressed a desire to revive the Midtown East commercial district to become a 24/7 ‘work-play’ destination,” Polanco said. “My brothers and I want to shift the storefront from a cigar spot to a world-class destination for cannabis consumers that will destigmatize the use of the plant and inform the world of its vast benefits.”

The Polancos asked the New York Office of Cannabis Management for a waiver to allow them to open in this location and are waiting on an answer. A spokesperson said the approval is being held up right now on an unofficial technicality.

Cigar Lounge History

The connection to the famed cigar family could also be a draw. According to Wikipedia, Nat Sherman made his fortune running a prominent speakeasy in New York City during the 1920s Prohibition era.

“Perhaps as the result of settlement of a gambling debt, his son later speculated, Sherman wound up as half owner of Traub Brothers and Bear, makers of the Epoca cigar brand, which introduced the nightclub proprietor into the world of tobacco manufacturing,” the Wikipedia entry noted.

Organized crime members patronized the original store which was located on Fifth Ave. The family moved to the latest location in the 1990s, spending $1.5 million developing the store.

Nat Sherman was bought by the tobacco company Altria in 2017, which 2020 closed the brand in 2022.

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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