Hantz Farms‘ business plan — creating an urban farm in the middle of blighted Detroit for the purposes of education and tourism — doesn’t appear to make much sense. That’s how its promotional video describes the venture:
An older Fortune piece eventually gets to the point:
Hantz says he’s willing to put up the entire $30 million investment himself — all cash, no debt — and immediately begin hiring locally for full-time positions. But he wants two things first from Jackson at the DEGC: free tax-delinquent land, which he’ll combine with his own purchases, he says (he’s aiming for an average cost of $3,000 per acre, in line with rural farmland in southern Michigan), and a zoning adjustment that would create a new, lower tax rate for agriculture. There’s no deal yet, but neither request strikes Jackson as unattainable. “If we have reasonable due diligence,” he says, “I think we’ll give it a shot.”
His stated goal is to create scarcity, so that property values go up — but creating scarcity doesn’t create wealth, even if it can transfer quite a bit.
Putting that land under new management though, that could create value. But that involves a political battle:
“I’m concerned about the corporate takeover of the urban agriculture movement in Detroit,” says Malik Yakini, a charter school principal and founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates D-Town Farm on Detroit’s west side. “At this point the key players with him seem to be all white men in a city that’s at least 82% black.”