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Billionaires' Row Co-op Board Just Says No to Weed Shop

Midtown, Manhattan

Co-op board, lawsuit, zoning laws, marijuana dispensary, neighborhood character.

The co-op board at 200 Central Park South has filed a lawsuit to keep a smoke shop out of the building.

Sept. 1, 2022

The co-op board at 200 Central Park South has sued developer Ashkenazy Acquisition for allegedly leasing the building’s ground-floor retail space to a smoke shop that could feature a marijuana dispensary, Crain's reports. The board, saying the store would diminish the character of the property, filed the suit Tuesday in state Supreme Court

The board said in court papers that a build-out has already begun, and signage at the space indicates that a tobacco and convenience store will be opening soon. It’s unclear why the board suspected the space could be a marijuana dispensary. “This is in breach of the master lease … which prohibits [the] tenant from permitting use of the premises in a manner that would detract from the dignity of the building,” the board said in court papers. 

The board also wrote that the store is in violation of state law because it is located within 500 feet of a school, likely referring to the St. Thomas Choir School a block away at 202 W. 58th St. The board further claimed that the use is inconsistent with the building’s C-5 zoning, which dictates that neighborhood character must be preserved in a retail space.

The attorney representing the building’s residents, Thomas Smith of Smith Buss & Jacobs, says the issue is nearly resolved, but he would not share details of whether a smoke shop would open there.

A representative for Ashkenazy Acquisition did not respond to a request for comment.

Around the city, smoke shops have been cited for illegally offering marijuana products for sale without a license. The state Office of Cannabis Management has sent at least 17 cease-and-desist letters to businesses in the city for selling marijuana without a license. Currently no retailers in New York City have a license to sell adult-use cannabis, not including medical cannabis. 

Mayor Eric Adams said in June that he would not play hardball with businesses illicitly selling marijuana but would rather help them join the legal market as it rolls out in the city.

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