FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Barring any unforeseen setbacks, legal pot dispensaries will be up and running within Fresno city limits by this time next year.
"If everything goes as planned, by summer of next year, you'll start seeing some of these retail cannabis operations in the city of Fresno," said Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias.
Applications for standard cannabis operators are due by December 4th, while the city manager's office is expected to award the first licenses to pot shops in early 2021.
Several local and out of town businesses are said to be vying for the 14 licenses - two per council district - initially up for grabs.
"We anticipate a lot of attraction from regional, local, and statewide and national applicants to come in because they see our tax rate much more attractive for business," said Arias.
The city's application process costs around $20,000, with investors also expected to take on additional costs to renovate buildings and get them up to code.
"The average cost to make a retail dispensary operational is $1.5 million. When you go through the permitting, construction, the acquisition of property, renovation of the property, it's not a cheap endeavor," said Arias.
According to Arias, several prime locations across the city have already been gobbled up by investors hoping to secure a license.
The former El Torito restaurant downtown has been named as a potential site. Investors have also zeroed in on the area of Blackstone and Minarets. The former Bank of America in the Tower District has become an attractive location because of its vault.
The city stands to make upwards of a million dollars in tax revenue in the first year alone once establishments are operational.
"It is substantial, and over the next couple of years, we anticipate $10 million a year of additional revenue," said Arias.
The City is also setting aside licenses for applicants that meet certain social equity considerations: low-income applicants, military veterans and applicants with previous marijuana convictions.
The earliest legal cannabis retail shops could open would be August of 2021.