A sweet dream turned bitter for a San Francisco gourmet cannabis chocolatier on Friday when a swank shopping mall in the heart of the city’s downtown retail corridor rejected its application to move in.
Défoncé Chocolatier, whose high-end chocolate bars are popular in Bay Area cannabis dispensaries, submitted a planning application to open a retail outlet in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, hoping to become the first marijuana shop to be located in an America class-A mall. And on Thursday, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the deal looked good.
But nine hours later, the chocolate-covered dream melted from the threat of federal interference. The Chronicle published an updated story reporting that the mall owners denied the proposal.
Related Story: 7 Stunning Cannabis Chocolates That Will Melt Your Heart
Westfield, anchored by Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, is also the home of such tony brands as Penhaligon’s London, Rolex and Tiffany & Co. In a statement issued late Friday, the mall’s owner said it was no longer considering the new tenant:
“Unless federal law permits the sale of cannabis products, Westfield will not lease to this type of tenant at any center it operates.”
Défoncé CEO Eric Eslao, a former executive at Apple, said he will pursue other locations within the city limits. “While we’re disappointed not to be moving forward with our proposed Westfield location, we are actively exploring alternative locations in San Francisco and look forward to continuing discussions with the city,” Eslao told the Chronicle.
Many experts in the cannabis, retail and real estate industries were not surprised by the rejection. In fact, most wondered how the situation got as far as it did.
A cannabis retailer in a shopping mall would have been “precedent-setting,” said Amanda Ostrowitz, a Denver regulatory attorney specializing in marijuana regulations and banking law. But she suggests that, eventually, the tide may turn.
“The growth of online retail has created a situation where the commercial real estate industry has to get more creative. If this works out, it could be a boon for the retail real estate industry. There are precious few sectors that are demanding storefront space at the moment,” Ostrowitz told the Chronicle.