DETROIT — Detroit will soon have a 140 acre forest on the city’s lower east side, thanks to final approval from Gov. Rock Snyder on the sale of 1,500 parcels of blighted city land to Hantz Woodlands, a privately owned company, for about $500,000.
The agreement allows Hantz to begin demolition blighted structures to make way for what’s being called, “the largest urban farming and woodlands project in the United States.”
According to the agreement, within two years of the acquisition, Hantz will clean all the vacant land of trash. The company will then mow vegetation at least once every three weeks. At least 50 structures will be demolished to make place for 15,000 hardwood trees.
According to The Atlantic Cities, the deal drew criticism last year from a coalition of urban farmers and community activists who argued the deal would increase land values by taking the acreage off the market.
John Hantz, chairman and CEO of the Hantz Group, agreed, but he thinks it’s a good thing. In an interview with The Atlantic, he argued that scarcity will stabilize the market in Detroit.
The company plans on planting oak, maple and other high value trees starting in 2014. The property will not be fenced, and the street and sidewalks will remain open for residents.