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Aurora Hemp Marketplace is just what it sounds like, a cannabis-themed shopping center

(DenverPostMany Denver area property owners won’t rent to dispensaries and other cannabis-related retail businesses at all, concerned about the industry’s continued conflict with federal law. Aurora-based Western Centers, which manages 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space in Colorado, has taken a different tack. It is gearing a 50,000-square-foot neighborhood shopping center in Aurora toward pot. As part of a $1 million-plus renovation, the former Chambers Point strip mall at East Mexico Avenue and South Chambers Road has been re-branded the Aurora Hemp Marketplace, anchored by a trio of cannabis-centric businesses — a head shop, a dispensary and a hydroponics supply center. The goal is to add more complementary businesses in the future — perhaps a store that sells hemp products, a medical marijuana card clinic, a marijuana smoking club — should ever Aurora allow them — or even a Cheba Hut, the pot-themed sandwich chain known for its “toasted” subs, he said. “We would love it to have a marijuana focus, but there are still limited concepts,” Wagner said. “For a 50,000-square-foot center, that’s a lot of marijuana tenants.” The move has been good for business so far. Occupancy at the center used to hover around 60 percent. Following the renovations and re-branding, though, it’s up to 95 percent. Rents are up, too. The Aurora Hemp Marketplace’s other tenants include your typical neighborhood shopping center lineup — a dry cleaner, nail salon, donut shop, tattoo parlor, dog groomer, party supply store, massage parlor and check cashing service.

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