Oregon District medical marijuana shop design criticized: ‘This looks like Wendy’s’

A group working to bring a new medical marijuana dispensary to the Oregon District is heading back to the drawing board after its designs were criticized by neighbors and a city historic preservation board.

CannAscend Ohio LLC proposes to open a medical pot dispensary called Strawberry Fields at 333 Wayne Ave., which is a former service station.

CannAscend submitted plans to Dayton’s Landmark Commission that call for renovating the 71-year-old building to look like Strawberry Fields dispensaries in Colorado and Maryland.

But Landmark Commission members and neighbors said the dispensary design was inappropriate and would be more fitting in suburbia, like Austin Landing.

“This looks like Wendy’s to me,” said Nicole Steele, who lives on Jackson Street, about a block and a half from the dispensary site.

CannAscend’s construction manager and architect said they would revise the plans to be more in line with the building’s architectural history.

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About 13 medical pot dispensaries are proposed for the Dayton region. CannAscend Alternative is looking to open Strawberry Fields-branded dispensaries in Dayton and Monroe.

CannAscend has applied to the Landmarks Commission for a major certificate of appropriateness for a project to renovate the commercial building at 333 Wayne Ave.

The building was constructed in 1947 as a service station, and it was remodeled to be a travel agency in the 1980s, said Rachel Bankowitz, Dayton’s historic preservation officer.

The building is considered an “intrusion” or “non-contributing” because it is in the historic district but doesn’t fit its period of architectural significance, she said.

“It’s within the boundaries, so we do have to make sure that whatever happens there is complementary to the district,” she said.

CannAscend’s submitted designs proposed getting rid of some of the glass on front of the building. Right now there are three glass bays.

Other changes included adding modern materials line stone veneer, contemporary siding and flush metal doors.

Landmark Commission members said the front of the building needs more glass — possibly frosted glass or spandrel glass, which is opaque.

Multiple commission members said the proposed design looks very suburban and out of place.

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Steele, the neighbor, said CannAscend’s proposed design would eliminate the building’s art-deco features.

“I do think that completely stripping off all of the art deco is a complete travesty,” she said.

Multiple neighbors sent letters objecting to the proposed designs, saying they need to better blend with the district.

Alex Heckman, vice president of Dayton History, said the dispensary needed to look more historic.

The Landmark Commission decided to change CannAscend’s case to a concept review instead of plans for approval.

The company’s representatives will return before the Landmark Commission with revised plans for members to review.

“What we’re really looking for what you do here is to be more in character with the deco-style of that building,” said Laura Sebald, commission member..”We’re not trying to make it look like an 1880s building.”

Seth Stockmeister, construction manager for the Strawberry Fields project, said the designs have to comply with state requirements on dispensaries.

But, he said, “We want this to be something the community is proud of.”

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