Athol retail marijuana business changes hands

  • The future home of cannabis retailer Blue Jay Botanicals is shown at 22 Chestnut Hill Avenue, Athol, Wednesday. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 8/12/2020 5:15:12 PM
Modified: 8/12/2020 5:15:05 PM

ATHOL — Members of the Selectboard last week were introduced to the new owners of Blue Jay Botanicals, a retail marijuana business with plans to open up shop at the site once occupied by Victory Lane Motors.

Attorney Phil Silverman, representing Blue Jay, provided details of change in ownership.

“This board may recall,” he began, “that back in January 2019 there was a host community agreement executed between the town and Blue Jay Botanicals to operate a retail marijuana establishment at 22 Chestnut Hill Avenue. Since that time — and it’s not unusual in the cannabis industry in Massachusetts — there’s been some moving around and there’s been a new team that’s come in to take over this particular company.

“That team is known as Nuestra LLC. It’s a company that’s doing some great things in Somerville and Cambridge, in terms of applying to operate there.

“The company is also what’s known as an economic empowerment applicant for the Cannabis Control Commission, and it’s a women-owned business as well.”

He said the previous owners of the location, Chuck and Cindy Hartwell of New Salem, had determined they could not see the process through to its end and approached Silverman’s law firm to seek assistance in finding a buyer for their business.

“They said, ‘Look, we still think it’s a good location. This is an opportunity but we don’t want to go forward. Can you assist us in finding a group that has the financial capability to move forward, has the expertise and, quite frankly, is a good fit for the town?’”

Silverman introduced the board to Nuestra CEO Ivelisse Rivera, who is active in the Red Sox Foundation and several other organizations, and to COO Jonathan Tucker

“It’s a new team, but it’s a very community-oriented team,” said Silverman. “There are no changes to the location, to the facility that was proposed; no changes proposed to the host community agreement.

“We’re not seeking to assign this host agreement to a new company. It’s still Blue Jay. So, technically, I don’t think it’s a matter of getting approval of this, but we did want to give you a comfort level.”

Silverman added that Chuck and Cindy Hartwell will remain involved in working with the company. In response to questioning from board member Alan Dodge, he added that it’s likely the business could open its doors in about eight months and would employ 10 to 15 people — possibly up to 20.

Tucker added that the company strives to provide more than a living wage, as well as advancement opportunities.

“We have some very friendly real estate agents who would be happy to help you whenever you want to come up here and make this your home,” board Chair Rebecc Bialecki concluded.

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