Almost two years after Winchester-based GenCanna Global received approval to develop the former AmerisourceBergen building in downtown Paducah into a multi-faceted hemp operation, the 120,000 square-foot building remains idle.
The Paducah Planning Commission approved GenCanna’s application for a light industrial use Sept. 17, 2018. Plans included manufacturing hemp-derived products, warehousing and space for research and retail operations.
In December 2018, GenCanna announced plans to construct a $40 million hemp processing facility north of Mayfield. Construction on that project began in February 2019 but was delayed later in the year. In addition, several companies involved in the project filed more than $13 million in liens related to the Mayfield construction.
In February of this year, GenCanna filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to work out a reorganization plan that could lead to debt refinancing or a potential sale.
Paducah City Manager Jim Arndt said while the city had some communication with GenÇanna following the initial approval of its application, there has been no contact in recent months regarding the AmerisourceBergen building.
“It’s been very quiet. I know that they have their own financial issues. We’re still hopeful, but at the same time it’s a good facility, a good asset for the community,” he said.
“I’m confident if GenCanna doesn’t fulfill their hopes and dreams for the facility that another successful business will.”
Company officials preferred not to comment when contacted by The Sun regarding plans for the property at 322 N. Third St.
The city incorporated several conditions into the building’s use, including improved landscaping and a tree canopy around the building and murals on the building’s faces.
“I think GenCanna had a good plan in place that kind of fits within the downtown scheme and what’s going on down there with the BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) grant going on all around them,” Arndt said.
“They were doing some modifications to the building to make it blend in more as well as doing some things inside to be more pedestrian-friendly, for people to be able to come in and learn more about the hemp industry.”
GenCanna planned to produce food grade cannabidiols (CBD) under the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Program at the Paducah facility.
Hemp became a legal agricultural crop as the result of a provision inserted into the federal farm bill that removed the plant from the list of federally controlled substances.
“They had a great business model, and they were looking to be successful,” Arndt said of GenCanna’s Paducah plans.
“They had a lot of support from the state and the federal government. Hopefully, they’ll be able to right the ship and be a good community partner moving forward.”