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Reply #46: I've been following this story for months. [View All]

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Starry Messenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-12-10 04:58 PM
Response to Reply #44
46. I've been following this story for months.
Edited on Wed May-12-10 05:11 PM by Starry Messenger
:shrug: You obviously just got to it today.

Did you read my subject line? The. Fair. Grounds. is. not. the. only. proposal. Hopefully a gentleman of your skill and probity would infer that there were other projects in the works.

http://money.cnn.com/2009/12/29/news/economy/farming_de...


That sounds like a buying opportunity, and in fact Detroit looks pretty good right now to a young artist or entrepreneur who can't afford anyplace else -- but not yet to an investor. The smart money sees no point in buying as long as fresh inventory keeps flooding the market. "In the target sites we have," says Hantz, "we every two weeks."

As Hantz began thinking about ways to absorb some of that inventory, what he imagined, he says, was a glacier: one broad, continuous swath of farmland, growing acre by acre, year by year, until it had overrun enough territory to raise the scarcity alarm and impel other investors to act. Rick Foster, an executive at the Kellogg Foundation whom Hantz sought out for advice, nudged him gently in a different direction.

Hantz says he's willing to put up the entire $30 million investment himself -- all cash, no debt -- and immediately begin hiring locally for full-time positions. But he wants two things first from Jackson at the DEGC: free tax-delinquent land, which he'll combine with his own purchases, he says (he's aiming for an average cost of $3,000 per acre, in line with rural farmland in southern Michigan), and a zoning adjustment that would create a new, lower tax rate for agriculture. There's no deal yet, but neither request strikes Jackson as unattainable. "If we have reasonable due diligence," he says, "I think we'll give it a shot."

Detroit mayor Dave Bing is watching closely. The Pistons Hall of Fame guard turned entrepreneur has had what his spokesman describes as "productive discussions" with Hantz. In a statement to Fortune, Bing says he's "encouraged by the proposals to bring commercial farming back to Detroit. As we look to diversify our economy, commercial farming has some real potential for job growth and rebuilding our tax base."

Hantz, for his part, says he's got three or four locations all picked out ("one of them will pop") and is confident he'll have seeds in the ground "in some sort of demonstration capacity" this spring. "Some things you've got to see in order to believe," he says, waving his cigar. "This is a thing you've got to believe in order to see."


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