CMCI builds dispensaries from dilapidated buildings and abandoned churches

The Task: Our objective for these projects was to deliver a high-end medical and retail facility for Swade/BeLeaf within a budget and schedule that were dictated by tight constraints from the State of Missouri and challenged by the impacts of Covid 19 on the construction industry and beyond. Jobs of this magnitude are not typically executed this quickly.  Design does not take place as the project is progressing through construction.  CMCI completed General Contracting services for BeLeaf Medical, LLC for the construction of 4 of their Missouri dispensaries: 1) St. Peters 2) Ellisville 3) St. Louis/Tower Grove 4) St. Louis/ Delmar Loop

CMCI’s relationship with BeLeaf started prior to BeLeaf’s inception. BeLeaf has a handful of board members who are professionals in the construction and engineering field, and had either worked directly with CMCI on previous projects or were familiar with our longevity and reputation as a quality GC. We were approached in early 2020 to help BeLeaf coordinate a master calendar for design, permitting, and construction of their dispensaries. St. Peters was first on the calendar for design in February, 2020. We started bidding/pricing the project at the end of February and construction took place May through August. The Ellisville and Grove locations started shortly after, with Delmar following behind. All aiming for a completion determined by DHSS for BeLeaf’s final state inspections on 1/24/21.

The Problem / Goal: Although the projects were not intended to be design build, we used our expertise in design build projects to move these projects along quickly to meet the tight deadlines and reassess throughout construction. We held weekly reports and meetings with ownership and the architects to coordinate outstanding items prior to their construction and catch any potential challenges before they   become a hard delay. We also held rough-in meetings, allowing the ownership group to get in the space and assess what was working with the design and what needed to change prior to the work being completed.  CMCI worked with the architect on a submittal schedule that allowed submittal review to happen concurrently with construction and prior to design being fully complete. By overlapping these processes, this allowed us to shorten the length of the design and construction schedules.

The Solutions: CMCI worked closely with the subcontractors and their suppliers to track material lead times throughout the project. Lead times were used in determining specifications/the types of materials and equipment being used, and were often re-assessed when Covid caused factory delays, shut-downs and slowed down shipments.

CMCI employs our own union Carpenters and Laborers, allowing us to have manpower readily available and on site when needed. Having our own skilled carpenters insured that the quality materials being used throughout the space were being installed with care and attention they needed to produce the high-end finish that Swade was seeking. The design included various natural metal, stone, and wood

elements as well as including several original aspects of these old buildings in St. Louis, and CMCI worked with the architects to determine installation methods that met the design intent. Overall, when you walk through the dispensaries today, you can see the careful attention to detail in the design and construction of these materials throughout the space. These dispensaries were created to invite customers to heal, and the space reflects that in the environment that has been produced.

The ability to find problems before they happened was one of CMCI’s biggest advantages during this process.  The team came up with quick solutions, sometimes before ownership even knew an issue had been encountered.  These jobsites had multiple weekly site visits from our Project Manager and many small details were scrutinized during the build out process, this along with knowledgeable superintendents who are receiving data daily from the PE, led to successful completion dates and small punch lists.  We met our profit margins, had a delighted customer, forged new relationships for ongoing business goals, developed knowledge in a growing area, and produced a fantastic product we are proud to showcase moving forward.


This space was in an old strip building that had been vacant for decades. We did an initial design and construction walk-through to assess the existing conditions and were able to determine that the building needed added structural engineering and supports, in addition to a new roof right off the bat. CMCI coordinated with the building owner to complete the structural, roofing, and masonry upgrades needed to make the building structurally sound and bring it up to current codes as Architectural partner MIN+ focused their efforts on the design and finish selections for Swade’s tenant finish.

Swade wanted the design to be true to “The Grove” area and reflect the spirit of Pride. The other dispensaries have earthy tones and finishes, and the Grove has much more color, light and movement. We maintained much of the building’s history by exposing the existing brick walls, dressing up the front façade with a new mural and steel awnings, and adding more metal and wood details in the finishes.

During our demolition, we discovered a hidden whisky barrel with rubber tubing that could be accessed by removing a few bricks to draw the whisky out. It was exciting to find this piece of history and wonder who might’ve been hiding this during the Prohibition era, and to envision the evolution into a modern dispensary.

Construction moved seamlessly and furiously as we worked towards a quick deadline for Swade to meet their DHSS required dates. CMCI’s expertise in design build construction played a vital role in keeping the project on schedule. Submittals were fast-tracked and materials were selected and reselected based on lead times and delivery dates that allowed CMCI to continue work without delay.

Rear indoor parking and overhead door access in both the front and rear of the building are two special features of this project. The rear parking allows more security for deliveries and for the Swade employees, and allows for much more storage if needed. The front overhead door allows Swade to open up it’s building to the outside for community events.

The Grove is Swade’s largest location, allowing more room in the design for added shelving and furnishings for their products. Our focus during construction was completing the project in a timely

manner, so they could get these shelves stocked and get open to serve the community. We achieved our goal as a team and were excited to see the space filled with patients.


Each Swade location holds a bit of history, and Swade Delmar is no exception. Cissell Mueller Construction, Inc (CMCI) worked as the General Contractor for both the building remodel for the owner and the tenant finish for Swade. The building leased for this tenant finish is an old abandoned brick Church. The building had fire damage from sheltering the communities homeless, and water damage from rain and decades of being uninhabited. CMCI’s first order of business was to complete fire damage restoration and replacement of structural beams and framing as needed.

During remediation and the start of construction, CMCI worked with Swade’s architect, MIN+ Architects, and the owner’s architect, Kiku Obata, to receive historical approval from the City of St. Louis’ Cultural Resource Office. The historical component of the design and construction of this project is truly what made it stand out from its sister Swade projects. As part of the historical renovation process, a series of photos were taken as preconstruction photos and historical photos were used to determine materials and finishes to restore the building to its original glory.

Once the historical components were approved and the building’s bones were structurally sound, framing and rough-in of the new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that brought the building up to code began. CMCI worked closely with the architects to determine final finish selections and secure materials to meet the project schedule. The historical finishes that were completed during the project included restored and new terrazzo flooring, restored wood entry stairs and flooring, replacement of existing windows and restoration of existing stained glass windows, new plaster, finished ceilings, and exterior brick restoration.

In addition to the historical finishes, the building also includes new modern finishes that honor the building’s history. This includes brass lighting, a brass terrazzo inlay as signage for Swade’s entry, new interior glazing systems, a stretch fabric lighting feature that includes a custom print of a stained glass window that mirrors the building’s existing terrazzo floor medallion, and new wooden entry doors.

“Being the largest and most premiere SWADE Dispensaries, special attention was paid to all aspects of the design to highlight this location as our flagship store and hiring local talent from beginning to end, only solidified our goal of creating a destinations admired for heavy doses of nostalgia.” Said Tom Muzzey of BeLeaf Medical, “This dispensary is a dedication to the creative, vibrant spirit of St. Louis encapsulating a strong collaboration of local talent, especially in Cissell Mueller.”

The final product is beautiful, and CMCI is proud of the finished product. This old church building was once a place for spiritual healing, and now it can be used for physical healing as Swade’s newest dispensary. CMCI is honored to be a part of this metamorphosis.