By Justin Strawser
SHAMOKIN — City officials in Shamokin approved a lease agreement with Parea BioSciences to use its former tax office for an administrative corporate office the week before the incoming medical marijuana grower/processor’s fourth deadline to finalize its real estate transaction with Northumberland County.
The five-year agreement, approved unanimously at Monday’s city council meeting, allows for Parea to rent the city-owned building at 51 E. Lincoln St. for office space at $1,000 a month. City officials moved the tax office next door to 47 E. Lincoln St. in January in anticipation of the agreement.
“We’re gaining $1,000 a month, but that’s only half the story,” said Mayor John Brown. We’re saving at least $500 on utilities. We have Treasurer Brenda Scandle back inside city hall where she is more comfortable.”
Parea BioSciences, through its holding company MNK 03 Holdings LLC, intends to purchase 10 acres of land owned by Northumberland County near the new prison in Coal Township for $1.5 million. The majority commissioners originally approved the option in May 2018 and the medical marijuana grower/processor was approved for a license in July 2018. Parea has provided the county with a non-refundable $131,000 to hold the property in Coal Township. The majority commissioners granted four extensions to finalize the real estate transaction, the latest deadline being Oct. 25.
As part of the city agreement, Parea reserves the right to renew the lease for three additional five-year periods with 90-day notices. Rent will be payable in advance without demand on the first day of the month an the late payment charge will be three percent of the amount due.
City Administrator Robert Slaby said he checked with M&T Bank to ensure the bank would accept the city’s revenue generated from medical marijuana since it is still considered illegal by the federal government. They approved the city’s request to deposit the money into the city’s accounts, he said.
“We did our homework,” said Slaby.
Brown and Slaby also noted that dispensary PharmaCann Penn LLC, which was awarded in December for Shamokin, will likely be open by next year. They will have tax revenue from whatever property that company purchases, as well as tax revenue from Harvest of North Central PA LLC’s building at 520 N. Shamokin St.
Even though Harvest was forced to relinquish its permit in Shamokin, the company still owns the building and must pay property taxes on it, said Slaby
No deed transfer yet
County Recorder Tina Mertz confirmed that no deed transfer had taken place yet for the land owned by Northumberland County.
Judith Cassel, a legal counsel with Cannabis Law PA that represents Parea, declined comment on Friday, but previously said the company is confident they will not need another extension. She previously said the company put down a “substantial amount of money” to demonstrate their intention.
The agreement with the county allows for Parea to be on-site making improvements to the land but they assume the risk if the real estate deal falls through.
Gaudenzia Inc., a drug addiction rehabilitation center, had a similar agreement with the county to make renovations or improvements as they waited for lease agreements to be negotiated.
The agreement with Gaudenzia was for leasing the property, not to purchase it.