The City of Fontana is now in the process of considering applicants who are interested in opening a cannabis retail establishment, and one of those applicants is already getting a building ready for possible use in the downtown area.
The Artist Tree, a combination art gallery/cannabis retailer, is hoping to convert the currently vacant building at 8594 Sierra Avenue into the first legal cannabis store in the city’s history.
Lauren Fontein, one of the founders of The Artist Tree (which already has dispensaries in various cities in California, including Riverside), hosted a community meet-and-greet at the location on Aug. 24.
“We have exhibits by local artists and we allow them to sell their pieces at the stores, and it’s a way for us to connect with the community and create a gathering space for people, whether or not they’re actually interested in consuming cannabis,” Fontein said.
Fontein said the licensing process is taking place now, and if the city approves the store, it could be able to open sometime next year, she said.
Last year, the City Council voted to allow three cannabis storefront retailers to operate in Fontana, one in each of three designated areas (north, central, and south). The vote was 4-1, with Jesse Sandoval in opposition.
The City Council said that these stores would need to meet several strict regulations, including being at least 600 feet away from schools, parks, day cares, youth centers, and city boundaries.
It is anticipated that these stores would generate “significant income” for the city, said Deputy City Manager Phil Burum.
Fontein said that The Artist Tree would provide additional benefits.
“It’s something that could really uplift downtown Fontana,” she said. “We’re in the great part of the city to connect with the city’s culture.”
She mentioned the Fontana Art Association’s Koehler Gallery, which is located a short distance up the street at 8536 Sierra Avenue.
Earlier this year, the City Council approved a Downtown Core Project which highlighted the upcoming transformation of Center Stage Theater into Stage Red, in honor of rock star Sammy Hagar. At the time, the City Council did not specifically discuss the possibility of a cannabis store in the downtown area.