Detroit urban farming entrepreneur gets 140 acres of land for $520,000. That’s one very small house in Metro Vancouver.
Debate rages in Detroit about whether this is fair, a good deal for the city, a blatant land grab, or evidence of corruption at city hall. The bottom line is that while John Hantz is not exactly Mr. Community, he’s taking 1,500 out of 60,000 distressed repossessed lots off the city’s hands, promised to clean them up and starting some property tax revenues flowing. (If taxes are based on this value, the city won’t be getting much.)
Does anyone really expect this land to be permanently used for agriculture or forestry? Not likely, but the alternative for the city today is hardly desirable: let the lands stagnate, drain the city’s financial resources, add to blight, not produce any jobs. How can that be preferable to what Mr. Hantz is proposing? He’s quite open about looking at this project from a real estate lens. See my interview with him in my book.
If anyone else has a better idea, they should step forward. The good news is that there are still more than 50,000 abandoned city-owned lots available for other projects. Hantz’ model isn’t for everyone, but there’s room for everyone elsewhere in the city.