Project to transform 140 acres of blight into large urban farm finally underway

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Six years of negotiations to transform more than 1,300 vacant and litter-strewn lots into an urban forest on Detroit’s east side have finally paid off.

Hantz Farms officially purchased the vacant parcels, which span across 140 acres that will be used in one of the nation’s largest-ever urban farming projects, the company announced this week. In October, Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr approved the development agreement.

“Our neighbors are thrilled with the transformation. Their excitement and appreciation motivates us,” the company posted on Facebook.

hantz belvidereThe plan is to plant 15,000 hardwood trees like maple and oak this spring over an area riddled with abandoned homes, dead trees and piles of garbage, tires and old furniture. The trees would provide jobs for large commercial farming and generate new property taxes for the cash-starved city, according to Hantz Farms.

Click here to see a photo gallery of the blighted area. 

But there are more bureaucratic hurdles. The company must still finalize the purchase of 50 abandoned, dangerous buildings to tear down.

Adam HollierAlso this month, the company announced the hiring of Adam Hollier as vice president of Hantz Farms. Hollier, a former Detroit City Council liaison for Mayor Dave Bing’s office, will be tasked with government and community relations.

“We are delighted to have Adam join our team,” Hantz Farms President Michael Score said. “His expertise in urban planning and familiarity of Detroit will enhance our ability to grow even stronger relationships with our neighbors and government. He knows how the city works and how to get things done.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.