New Detroit Farm Plan Taking Root

Author: Matthew Dolan

Source: The Wall Street Journal

One entrepreneur wants to take vacant lots in Detroit (which has lost many residential property owners recently) into a large-scale urban farm, designed to profit the cityCan the epitome of “urban blight” become profitable agriculture?

DETROIT—Three years ago, financial-services entrepreneur John Hantz proposed converting as much as 10,000 acres of vacant private and city-owned property here into the world’s largest for-profit urban farm, restoring swaths of land to the tax rolls and changing the face of Detroit’s blighted East Side.

John Hantz has a dream: To turn thousands of acres of abandoned land in inner-city Detroit into the world’s largest for-profit urban farm. Video and reporting by WSJ’s Matthew Dolan.

A video on his company’s website called the project “Detroit’s saving grace.” Critics called it a land grab.

Now, the Hantz plan is more modest—200 acres to start—and gaining support. Detroit’s planning director and economic-development agency have endorsed the sale of city land for the venture, and other skeptics, including Mayor Dave Bing, increasingly accept farming as their best hope for turning Detroit’s acres of nothing into something.

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