King City Gardens, Ohio’s newest $35M cannabis cultivation site, now up and running in Forest Park

King City Gardens, Ohio’s newest $35M cannabis cultivation site, now up and running in Forest Park

Six local businessmen – and one of Ohio’s top marijuana growers – are behind the state’s newest indoor cannabis farm now up and running in a Cincinnati suburb.

King City Gardens, which holds one of Ohio’s 23 Level 1 medical marijuana cultivation licenses, has officially kicked off operations in Forest Park in the long-abandoned Kmart along Omniplex Court near Interstate 275.

The debut caps a yearslong legal battle and represents a $33 to $35 million investment – one the King City team said will create roughly 100 jobs during its initial phase.

The six-man ownership group, which includes in part E+O Kitchen co-owner Bill Foster; Steve Anevski, co-founder of business staffing platform Upshift; and Caveh Azadeh, owner of NRL Mortgage in Mount Adams and its nearby Bow Tie Cafe, said the goal is to grow craft cannabis – and at scale.

“It’s great for the city. It’s great for patients,” Anevski told me. “There’s a lot of anticipation with what we’re doing, and there’s an opportunity to get on store shelves relatively quickly.”

The space has eight rooms dedicated to growing. Among Director of Grow Operations Justin Matherly’s favorites is the one where plants can grow up 6 to 10 feet tall. King City is also implementing a newer growing method, using vertical double-stacks racks, to essentially double its flower canopy.

Foster considers him the “Michael Jordan of growing.” In 2018, Matherly led the team responsible for Ohio’s first medical marijuana harvest as part of Agri-Med, a Level 2 grow facility in Meigs County.

Cannabis grown on site will be harvested, tested, packaged and shipped directly to is dispensary customers.

“We’re all Cincinnati guys,” he said. “We’re not looking to flip this in three or four years. And people want to buy local. That’s a big thing we’ve been preaching.”

Foster himself was against medical marijuana until a trip to Colorado, he said. He was among more than two dozen investors in a $20 million-plus campaign in 2015 to persuade voters to legalize recreational and medical marijuana, coordinated by the political action committee ResponsibleOhio.

Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016. Its first dispensary opened in 2019.

“I educated myself,” he said.

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