Things have been quiet since John Hantz claimed victory in his bid to buy 170 acres of Detroit's east side, but getting used to the calm could be a major mistake. There's another east side agriculture project in the works, except this one is adjacent to Eastern Market, will make a point of employing former addicts and felons, and involves fish. Tilapia, specifically. Do we have another few years of angry debate to look forward to?
RecoveryPark is a nonprofit that has been trying to start a fish farm in Detroit for a few years. Formed in 2008, the organization is focused on providing jobs for those with employment barriers, like having been recently released from prison or dealing with an addiction. The initial plan was to run the fish farm in an Eastern Market building next to Roma Cafe, but the cost of buying and repairing the structure was became too high. According to a recent article by Crain's, RecoveryPark now wants to do two things:
1. Build a new Tilapia Farm on a 45-acre industrial site somewhere on the east side. Exact location is thus far undisclosed.
2. Purchase all the vacant, publicly-owned land within a three-square-mile block east side, which is about 45% of it. That land will be used to grow fruits and veggies, mostly in greenhouses. If our math is correct, 45% of three square miles equals 864 acres. The area is bounded by St. Aubin, I-94, Mt. Elliott, and Vernor. Keep in mind, Hantz only bought a total of 170 acres.
The plan calls for only 25-30 of those acres to be used as greenhouses and a food center, and CEO Gary Wozniac says that there will be very little outdoor farming. That leaves an awfully large amount of land unaccounted for, though earlier this year Detroit Unspun had some info as to what other developments might be in store. RecoveryPark only claims to have only raised $1.4M of the $15M needed to start, but Wozniac claims to have the support of several city council members. It's probably a safe bet to say you'll be hearing much more about this one in the near future.
· RecoveryPark seeks acreage near Eastern Market [Crain's Detroit]
· RecoveryPark [Official]