Like most fringe elements that suddenly go mainstream, it’s typically the rich that profit first from its development into a commodity.
One can look at San Francisco’s increasing gentrification as a prime example of this disturbing trend. We now see the encroachment of high-end resale stores, costly “organic” mom and pop stores and “ethnic” restaurants in neighborhoods such as the Fillmore, the “New Mission” and the Tenderloin. These neighborhood have historically been populated with blacks, latinos and asian immigrants who circumscribe the patchwork of San Francisco’s low-income residents.
Now a casual stroll down these varied streets will clearly show you its residents are becoming less and less visible, as more and more folks with money (who are increasingly white and male) move in and push them out.
Even the cities medical marijuana dispensaries are falling victim to this displacement.
Marty Higgins is an Oakland businessman poised to purchase the commercial building at 70 Second Street, along with the marijuana dispensary the building houses.
He’s also a real estate developer who owns apartment buildings in the East Bay, as well as the downtown Oakland restaurant Cosecha (he was also sued last year for harassment by a former residential tenant in a well-documented piece for the East Bay Express).
Higgins most recent claim to fame is frontman for the new upscale dispensary Harvest, which took over operation of the former Hemp Center at 4811 Geary Boulevard. After its building was purchased by a limited liability corporation controlled by Higgin with a sale price at roughly $3.5 million — The Hemp Center was evicted last year.
Higgins is also said to have done the same to a former dispensary on Tenth Street under the guise of a renovation, making the neighborhood staple unrecognizable when it finally reopened. He also appears to be involved in another such venture at Bernal Heights Collective at 33 29th Street.
However, it seems for his magnum opus, Higgin is employing his same tactic to purchase the property on Second Street.
The aging, three-story, with its close proximity to BART boasts 7,600-square-feet of space, making it an ideal location for a mega-medical marijuana dispensary (hence why it’s asking price shot from roughly $5 million to $10 million according to the agent handling the sale of the property, John George). One can only surmise, then, that Higgins was able to purchase the building by either one of two ways: either he evicted the dispensary or, for a price (cash under the table) he had the dispensary permit transferred to him.
Higgins has been quietly making connections with his new marijuana buddies. According to SFWeekly he’s been seen tooling around with industry top cats, even providing the marijuana at a three-course industry dinner with cannabis pairings, and sponsoring a booth at a recent conference at the Parc 55 Hotel.
It seems the reason for the low-key attitude is quite clear. Higgins has displaced a lot of neighborhood dispensaries, ultimately creating an “us vs. them” dynamic with neighborhood residents–long before his doors even open.