CRISFIELD — After an hour-long closed session the City Council came up with a firm arrangement for the sale of the former Carvel Hall property.
While City Solicitor Michael Sullivan said, “I don’t want to divulge too much” he believed settlement would occur “very soon” and anticipated a contract in days.
It was in March when the council on a 3-2 vote approved the proposal by Element MD LLC to redevelop the former cutlery manufacturing plant into an indoor greenhouse to grow medical cannabis. The purchaser would be Phoenix Real Estate Holdings LLC, the same limited liability company that bought a building in the Princess Anne Industrial Park last December so it could process marijuana into edibles and other medical products.
Late last winter Element’s chief policy officer Ted Bibart offered $200,000 but if the contract goes through by Nov. 15 it will be sold for $150,000. If the purchase is after that date but before year-end then it would be $200,000 with escalators of $50,000 if the transaction is held off until 2022.
The buyer will be responsible for taxes and water/sewer charges due, settlement and recording costs. The property is 23.35 acres and includes the 70,000 sq. ft. former cutlery manufacturing plant and its once popular outlet gift shop plus offices. The operating name will be Phoenix Agriculture/Pioneer Hemp at Carvel Hall.
Mr. Bibart anticipates employing 35 to 40 people for this “indoor agriculture facility” and projected average revenue at $28 million per year. Last year he said redevelopment of the site once completed will be valued at more than $9 million.
During past virtual appearances to discuss plans with the City Council, Mr. Bibart called this “a family business,” as his wife Nkechi Iwomi is founder and CEO of Element Consulting Services LLC. The Ohio natives have since purchased a home near Princess Anne.
Mr. Sullivan said during last Wednesday's meeting that while the zoning permits this primary use there may be a request for additional zoning changes. Pending is a cultivation license from the Maryland Cannabis Commission. Element MD was awarded a pre-approval license last year for processing marijuana.
The property is a brownfield but Mr. Bibart has said there would be few outdoor modifications except for the addition of solar panels. They would be on the roof or if on the ground attached to concrete struts so as not to disturb the soil. Electricity generation would be up to 1.7 MWh to supplement demand for the greenhouse.
There were three proposals considered by the City Council to dispose of the Crisfield Highway property, and the vote in favor of negotiating the sale with Element MD was 3-2. Councilman Jimmy Ford said at the time that as a long-time scoutmaster and youth leader who tells children to stay away from drugs he could not be a hypocrite and support it.
Councilman Mike Atkins favored an arrangement by Mary Franz, although what that would be was never discussed publicly at the request of the investors.
A third submission was from Don D’Aquilla of Main Street Investments LLC which proposed to create a “retail destination” with outlet stores and small businesses.