Just across the street, a family-owned gym was struggling. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, even going to the gym was illegal. Victor DeLuca, then serving as mayor of the Essex County town of 26,000, got word that the gym’s future was up in the air.
An empty 6,000-square-foot storefront across from a main community gathering place? That’s exactly the kind of eyesore that DeLuca had tried to avoid in his nearly quarter-century on the Maplewood Township Committee.
“We wanted an investment up on Springfield Avenue,” DeLuca said. “We had been trying to get a solid investment up there for some time.”
Just over one year later, dozens of people waited tapping their toes and checking their phones at the Yale Corner, just itching for the chance to walk across the street and enter that same building.
The gym was long gone.
In its place was The Apothecarium, one of two TerrAscend medical marijuana dispensaries open at the time.And for the first time, the dispensary was open for business – recreational business.