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Greensburg medical marijuana dispensary delayed, downsized

Jacob Tierney
| Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, 4:03 p.m.
This early design for a medical marijuana dispensary in Greensburg has been scrapped because of budgetary concerns and developer Keystone Integrated Care is working on a new, more modest version. The project has been delayed as a result.
This early design for a medical marijuana dispensary in Greensburg has been scrapped because of budgetary concerns and developer Keystone Integrated Care is working on a new, more modest version. The project has been delayed as a result.

Westmoreland County's only medical marijuana dispensary has been sent back to the drawing board because developers realized their plans would cost more than they could afford.

Keystone Integrated Care Founder and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Perko said he hopes the dispensary will be open this summer.

“These aren't showstoppers. They're obviously obstacles, and some of them are greater-than-anticipated obstacles, but we're still committed to this project,” he said.

Greensburg City Council approved the project in September, and construction was expected to start soon after.

Instead, the site at 303 E. Pittsburgh St. sat vacant.

Perko said Keystone Integrated Care's leaders soon realized they had bit off more than they could chew.

“It was basically an unbuildable project due to budget constraints,” he said.

The company had submitted a more modest building proposal in its application to the state, but upon learning it would be the only dispensary in the county, it expanded its vision. It proposed a larger building — almost 4,000 square feet — to handle the greater number of expected customers.

The new plan will go back to the basics, Perko said.

Developers are working on a design for a building of about 3,000 square feet, more in line with the original proposal.

The plan will require fresh approval from the city of Greensburg. Perko said he hopes to receive approval in March.

If all goes well, construction would begin soon after and the dispensary would be open in June, he said.

The city, which welcomed the chance to host the sole Westmoreland County dispensary, remains optimistic about the project despite the delays, said Planning Director Barbara Ciampini.

“It's still moving forward, but because of the changes to the building and the design, we're going back through the process,” she said.

Westmoreland County Land Bank transferred three adjacent lots on East Pittsburgh Street to Keystone Integrated Care free of charge about two weeks ago. One of the lots is vacant, the other two contain empty homes.

Pittsburgh developer Blasier LLC handled much of the original design work but is not involved in the new project, Perko said.

Instead, Keystone's leadership — including Perko and Chief Financial Officer William “Tripp” Murray — have been handling much of the day-to-day work. They have partnered with architecture firm AE Works, contractor PW Campbell and civil engineer Morris Knowles on the redesign.

Perko said there is one silver lining. The delay means by the time the dispensary opens its doors, the newly established growers and processors that will supply it with oils, waxes, pills and other cannabis products will be fully operational.

“A lot of the people that are opening up don't have a product to offer to patients,” Perko said. “We feel pretty confident that by the time we get up and running, we'll have a healthy product line.”

Pittsburgh's first dispensary, Solevo Wellness, is on track to open Feb. 16. The 7,000-square-foot facility on Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill is expecting to receive its first shipment of marijuana soon.

Cannabis Consultant Sara Gullickson said Solevo will have a range of medical marijuana products available as soon as it opens, though a wider variety will become available as the industry grows.

Keystone Integrated Care's two satellite locations are under way. The Lawrenceville facility may be ready to go sooner than the Greensburg flagship, and Perko said he is waiting to hear from the state to see if he's allowed to do business there before his main facility is operational.

The Cranberry location also has been delayed and is expected to open in mid-to-late summer, Perko said.

Staff writer Ben Schmitt contributed. Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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