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John Hantz to WSJ: Detroit Could Do Every Idea I've Ever Heard Of and Still Have Plenty of Empty Land Left

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Since John Hantz first proposed a commercial farm within the city of Detroit three years ago, he has scaled it back from 10,000 acres to 200. The Wall Street Journal talks up the current Hantz Farm plans in a article that counts 200,000 vacant parcels for the city of Detroit, "that generate no significant tax revenue and would cost more to maintain than the city can afford." Hantz himself, the 50-year-old resident of Indian Village, comes off as confident, claiming that Detroit "could do every idea I've ever heard of tomorrow" and still have plenty of empty land left. (Is that some tacit support for a Zombie-theme park?)

Hantz can't start his tree farm until the city approves the land sale (the one suspicious people are calling a "land grab"). To create Hantztramck (or Hantz-sterdam or Hantzylvania) he will buy 2,300 parcels at $300 each, which WSJ says is only "one-tenth of what city officials wanted." But unlike the city, he has the money to clear the land and demo around 200 structures which will cost about $2 million. He will be paying around $60,000 a year in land taxes.

Much credit for bringing the proposal around to its might-finally-be-going-somewhere-state goes to Mike Score who is now the President ant public face of Hantz Farms. Score, in addition to having the perfect last name for making shaky things into successes, has worked in agriculture development in Zaire and has played an important role in lobbying neighbors and city leaders for Hantz. Ultimately, this proposal lacks Detroit's favorite talking point (just say "job creation" and people applaud like crazy. No really. Try it...) but who else is offering to take this much land off the city's hands who can actually afford the taxes on it? At this point the city can't count "not getting what they hoped" in a land sale as a loss. Those lots could sit useless forever.

· New Detroit Farm Plan Taking Root [WSJ]
· Hantz Farm To Spend $600 K on Land, $5 M on Start-Up Costs [Curbed Detroit]
· Hantz Farm Proposal Continues to Make Detroit Suspicious [Curbed Detroit]