The lower east side of Detroit is about to get a make-over. Hantz Woodlands (formerly known as Hantz Farms), has reached a deal with the State of Michigan to purchase 1,500 parcels of non-continuous land for the price of half a million dollars and plant urban forestry in place of blighted and derelict properties that scatter the landscape.
The press release from the office of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder claims:
Within two years of closing on the parcels, Hantz Woodlands will clean all vacant land acquired and mow vegetation at least every three weeks during the growing season. At the same time, Hantz will demolish at least 50 dangerous structures while planting at least 15,000 hardwood trees.
On the civic end, this is a way that the city can get properties cleaned up and into the hands of someone who has the capacity to care for them. While in many parts of the city, neighbors have tried to gain control of nearby properties in order to maintain them themselves, a great deal of the new Hantz Woodlands have gone up for auction at some point before ending up in the hands of the Michigan Land bank, who has no interest in simply holding the land in hopes that better prices come along in the near, or not so near, future. MLive reports that out of everyone surveyed in the area where the forest is being proposed, over 90% support the plan.
At only $333 per parcel, many people are considering this an example of corporate interests gaining control over local stake holders. However despite the low price, Hantz has plans to invest millions in the property, something that a neighbor looking to clear the brush and maintain the lawn length would have a hard time pulling off. This large scale effort will also put property tax money back into the city, which can use any property tax cash they can get their hands on.
There’s also some basic economics at play here: When the market has a surplus of a product (in this case, land in Detroit), the price will drop. Desirability will go a certain distance, but so will scarcity. The bottom line here is that there are now 1,500 fewer available parcels in the city of Detroit, and even though this deal with Hantz was five years in the making, it shows that if you want in on the rock bottom prices of land in Detroit, you might not have lots of time to weigh out your options.
Even if other properties in Detroit have been substantially more awkward in their attempted acquisitions such as the $6m bid on the Packard plant, not far from where the Hantz Woodlands project will be enacted. After the prospective buyer released a bizarre statement riddled with strange wording, misspelled words, and tragically poor fact-checking, the deal fell though.