Marijuana, with a side of music, may be coming soon to Faneuil Hall - The Boston Globe | Turn 420
Connect with us


Marijuana, with a side of music, may be coming soon to Faneuil Hall – The Boston Globe



One could say that Soul Cannabis, a project vying to take over the now-vacant space at Faneuil Hall long occupied by the Durgin-Park restaurant, is a joint venture.

That’s because Soul Cannabis would include not just a marijuana dispensary, a first for the historic site, but it would also house a recording studio — helmed by musical director Michael Bivins, of New Edition fame — open for local musicians to use.

The project, which has secured a lease for the 15,000-square-foot space and will seek approval from the Boston Cannabis Board on Wednesday, is a sign of the times for Faneuil Hall, which suffered mightily amid the tourist slump of the pandemic. Durgin-Park, of course, was a mainstay of Old Boston, serving diners for nearly 200 years before shuttering in early 2019. Soul Cannabis would usher in the Boston of 2022, a city working to invigorate its downtown.

“The thought was that the foot traffic would be incredibly beneficial to the merchants, especially just coming out of COVID,” said Faneuil Hall general manager Joe O’Malley. “It would be another step in the right direction of trying to get the property back to what it was before.”

And for the people behind Soul Cannabis, opening in Faneuil Hall is a chance to change the narrative of the marketplace.

“We have an opportunity to really make a difference to those communities that have been harmed through cannabis prohibition by allowing them to get some visibility at Faneuil Hall marketplace,” said Eric Lawrence, the CEO of Soul Cannabis.

Pedestrians walked past Faneuil Hall in 2017. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

To this end, Soul Cannabis plans to spend $200,000 a year on its recording studio program, offering free production time and mentorship to musicians from parts of Boston designated as having had disproportionately high levels of drug criminalization before marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts. In the retail space, a rotating selection of DJs would be invited to spin tracks, and “whisper booths” would allow customers to record their own karaoke tracks to take home.

The third floor — dubbed “Freedom Hall,” a nod to the marketplace’s historical ties to slavery and the Triangle Trade between Boston, Africa, and the West Indies — would be dedicated to hosting community meetings, small business pop-ups, and gallery space for local artists.

“What makes me excited, being a kid from Roxbury, from the hood of Orchard Park, [is] to say, you know what, I can catch the Orange line, go downtown, get me a leaf, and live out my dream in music,” said Bivins. “And say that, hey, history has been broken [at] Faneuil Hall.”

To give the marketplace a boost, Soul Cannabis intends to buy $2,500 worth of prepared food each month from Faneuil Hall merchants, to be donated to Voices of Liberation’s Feed the Hood program, which distributes food to people in need. They would also partner with the Big Hope Project, which works to seal and expunge drug offenses from criminal records.

Existing merchants hope that the dispensary would help “get Faneuil Hall back on the map,” said George Maherakis, president of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace Merchants’ Association. Soul Cannabis would be the latest high-profile tenant to commit to Faneuil Hall; outposts of chain restaurants Margaritaville and Sugar Factory are slated to fill vacant storefronts.

If Soul Cannabis makes it through the full approval process, they expect to raise and invest about $6 million in the site, which they hope to open in late 2023 or early 2024.

“Faneuil Hall has been going through somewhat of a transformative period, particularly post-pandemic,” said Victor Chiang, the COO of Soul Cannabis. “They’re investing a lot in terms of transforming the marketplace, with more restaurants, more entertainment concepts. For us, we felt like this was a natural extension to that.”

Dana Gerber can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @danagerber6.

Read the full article here

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *