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Reply #54: I'm just telling you what I'm reading. [View All]

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Starry Messenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-12-10 06:46 PM
Response to Reply #53
54. I'm just telling you what I'm reading.
I have no idea how it is all going to fall out. Hantz has made the statement more than once that he sees this as a once in a life-time opportunity. I can't read his mind. It may well all come to nothing, as you say. I think it's shitty that he is trying to do this under cover of a "farm" scheme that so far has been secretive and contradictory and is also trying to get the taxes lowered to what farms pay outside the city. There are people in the community there who are also tracking this project:

Hantz Farms is in negotiation with the city and the state for swaths of land on Detroits near east side and on the Michigan State Fairgrounds. Financial services entrepreneur John Hantz is reportedly ready to invest $30 million into a commercial urban farming venture that will encompass that land. Hantz representatives have described a new Detroit full of fruit orchards, tree farms and indoor vegetable gardens utilizing vacant industrial buildings. Score says that Hantzs financial clout will get vacant land back on the tax rolls while creating a viable farming operation throughout the city, while emphasizing the commercial nature of Hatnz Farms. He says that competition with smaller growers shouldnt be an issue. He envisions a Detroit city with several large farms and an abundance of small to mid-size farms.

Were really producing for a larger-scale buyer who has a different set of food compliance needs than the small gardener can meet, Score told the Michigan Citizen. We envision about 80 percent of our product being sold to large-scale buyers in the wholesale market. That 80 percent will have no affect on the smaller scale ventures that are thriving in the Detroit marketplace now. Score estimates that Hantz will begin operations as soon as this summer, most likely on 40 acres of the State Fairgrounds. The State Fairgrounds farm is contingent on a real estate deal between the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority and the state. One-hundred more acres are being developed on undisclosed locations on the near east side. In addition, Hantz has tested soil in 58 other communities around the Detroit area.

Community activists are worried about a potential land grab at below market value.

But Score says that Hantz will keep land bought specifically for farming as is, calling those projects a long-term multi-generational commitment.

Score added, however, that Hantz would be open to selling land to developers that sat adjacent to thriving communities, saying that, when hes going to buy land to sell it, hell make that clear.

He also admitted that at some time, land on the edges of his agricultural developments might be for sale.

Hantz Farms is putting land back on the tax rolls, but at what reduced tax rate? Score says that issue is still in the negotiation phase, adding that, What were asking for is that the tax authorities work with us so that the tax rate allows us to compete with other farms in southeast Michigan.

These "farms" he is talking that are already there are neighborhood community gardens--a much smaller project than an actual farm. He has never addressed how he is going to deal with the toxins in the ground or how the rest of the city is supposed to work around his "farm". I don't know, I just think it's worth keeping an eye on. I really don't think he is farming.

Hantz, meanwhile, has no patience for what he calls "fear-based" criticism. He has a hard time concealing his contempt for the nonprofit sector generally. ("Someone must pay taxes," he sniffs.) He also flatly rejects the idea that he's orchestrating some kind of underhanded land grab. In fact, Hantz says that he welcomes others who might want to start their own farms in the city. "Viability and sustainability to me are all that matters," he says.

And yet Hantz is fully aware of the potentially historic scope of what he is proposing. After all, he's talking about accumulating hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of acres inside a major American city. And it's clear that he views Hantz Farms as his legacy. Already he's told his 21-year-old daughter, Lauren, his only heir, that if she wants to own the land one day, she has to promise him she'll never sell it. "This is like buying a penthouse in New York in 1940," Hantz says. "No one should be able to afford to do this ever again."
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