Vast Land Deal Divides Detroit

Detroit Michigan 1906
Detroit Michigan, 1906.jpg

Hmm. Urban blight vs. maples. Or the oak vs. the maples, whatever. Still better than Houston…

John Hantz says he has a dream: to purchase 140 acres of derelict land in the heart of Detroit and turn it into the world’s “largest urban farm.”

A Web site set up by Mr. Hantz, a wealthy entrepreneur, to advance his proposal says the farm would return the city “to its agrarian roots.” The repurposed lots — cleared of blight and planted with roughly 15,000 hardwood trees — would establish an economic zone, raise property values and return vast tracts of abandoned land to the city tax rolls, according to Mike Score, the president of the venture, Hantz Farms. Ideally, the enterprise has signaled, it would eventually become a major source of local food.

In a city where entire blocks of foreclosed homes and crumbling buildings have been bulldozed, the proposal has drawn some support, notably from the mayor, Dave Bing, and some city council members. But the proposed sale has drawn objections from some residents and city officials who say it would amount to a land grab.

“This is not the way to grow a vibrant city,” said Kwame Kenyatta, a City Council member. “Just because we have vacant land doesn’t mean we should turn Detroit into a farm.”

The council is set to vote on the proposal on Tuesday.

(click here to continue reading Vast Land Deal Divides Detroit –

Just A Little Bit of Daydream
Just A Little Bit of Daydream

My quick reaction is that since this land has been derelict for decades, why shouldn’t it be reclaimed? If Detroit had the money to repair these areas, they would have, but they don’t, and won’t any time soon. Why not try something new? Of course, John Hantz has ulterior motives, but that seems a fair price to pay.

Per the Hantz Neighborhood proposal PDF, the proposal includes such provisions as:

Hantz Woodlands will give the City a Cash Payment for the total purchase price at closing, as well as cover the estimated costs for property title work ($750,000), demolition of dangerous structures ($2 M) and removal & disposal of illegally dumped debris ($450,000)

Hantz Woodlands will demolish or improve dangerous structures within the development zone (at the very least, 50 structures within two years).

Hantz Woodlands will clean up and maintain all parcels, removing illegally dumped trash and mowing at no more than a three week interval.

Hantz Woodlands will plant at least 15,000 trees during the first two years of the agreement.

Residents who have community gardens or have maintained vacant lots prior to December 2012 will be offered first option to purchase at a price lower than that paid by Hantz Woodlands.

The agreement involves approximately 1,500 of the 5,200 parcels in the development zone – leaving more than 70% of the parcels owned by other parties.

If I had a vote, I’d vote for it…

3 thoughts on “Vast Land Deal Divides Detroit

  1. Beth says:

    I have to agree with you. The land has been derelict for awhile and while I don’t claim to understand all the intricacies, it doesn’t seem like a bad use of the land. 15,000 trees (yay O2), and a cleaned up zone. Granted, there’s the threat of newly displaced (homeless) garbage, debris and building materials. Maybe that’s what’s upsetting, perhaps? Are they afraid it Detroit will lose its identity if fresh vegetables are grown there? If the air is cleaner?

  2. To clarify, Houston is my foil, a stand-in for cities that are not, well, to be blunt, not a place I’d want to live. Actually, so is Detroit.

    For instance:


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