Working To Replace Blight With Beauty
Big changes could be coming to the lower east side of Detroit. In the neighborhoods to the east and west of Indian Village there are dozens of empty lots and abandoned homes. They are unsightly, they can be unsafe and they are unprofitable.
One local company wants to transform 170 acres of the city. Hantz Farms --part of the Hantz Group — has big plans for abandoned properties in Detroit. Mike Score is president of Hantz Farms. He told us, “We bought these trees, they were a couple years old and they’ll grow about one foot per year in height and they’ll grow about 1/3 inch in diameter. So its about a 40 to 60 year period before these trees would be ready to harvest.”
Score says Hantz Farms will clean up the sites, tear down the vacant structures, remove the brush from the alleyways, cut the grass, remove the garbage and then plant the area with mixed hardwoods.
Why hardwood trees?
Score says, “If you’re talking about growing food crops, there are a lot of issues related to food production in the city that neighbors just aren’t ready for on a larger scale. People have concerns about how pests would be managed in food crop production. Then there’s also the question of whether or not soils are contaminated, how safe the food would be to eat.”
To give the city, and neighbors, an idea of what a tree farm would be like, a few lots near Hantz’ offices on Mount Elliott were planted with about 120 oak trees. Then they planted a few apple and redbud trees between the sidewalk and the street to bloom in the spring.
But before the trees were planted, the Hantz crew had to remove 430 tires and 350 cubic yards of garbage from the lots.
According to Score, “When the property was city owned, the grass was tall, when people had large items they normally would have to pay to dispose of, they would just throw them out into the middle of the field. But once we got it cleared up people have stopped dumping out in the neighborhood and they partner with us now.
The final plan would call for the planting of 70-thousand trees and a 5-million dollar investment by Hantz Farms over the first three years.
Hantz is working with the city to finalize sale of the land.
Currently residents won’t have to move. And they may have the option of buying land themselves
Current zoning regulations would have to be changed to allow for eventual sale of the trees. But Score says they’re willing to take a chance on that because their first goal is helping the city, “The primary purpose was to make communities more livable, to improve quality of life in neighborhoods and its a long term commitment that the Hantz group is making to Detroit.
Or, as Mike Score likes to say: To replace blight with beauty.