WhyHunger opposes proposed Detroit land grab

WhyHunger joins with our partners at the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) and other friends in Detroit in opposing a large-scale sale of public land proposed by real estate developer John Hantz.

The proposed deal would grant Hantz 1956 lots (approximately 177 acres) of publicly-owned land at the fire-sale price of 8¢ per square foot. The purchase would be one of the largest urban land acquisitions ever seen in a U.S. city, and the biggest in Detroit’s history. For years, residents of some of Detroit’s hardest-hit  communities, including members of DBCFSN and many others, have been working to reclaim their food security and economic independence through ambitious, successful, community-run urban agriculture projects. A land grab of this scale threatens to destroy the decentralized, grassroots-up model that these groups are pioneering, and would give disproportionate control over the city’s future to a single man.

Further, the proposed deal has largely been negotiated behind closed doors. Due to strong public pressure in recent weeks, a City Council vote on the sale has been postponed and a public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, December 10th. The City’s own Planning Commission has come out against the deal, citing that the proposed sale:

  • is a speculative land deal “contrary to established land sale policies”;
  • would set an “inequitable precedent” for future land acquisition;
  • would afford Hantz “an advantage over any other developer”;
  • and that “the urgency to securing [the sale] for an ostensibly urban agricultural project without benefit of an urban ag ordinance has not been explained.”

The Planning Commission concludes, “it would be premature to authorize the proposed purchase agreement land sale at this time,” and goes on to say that “tree farming on the lower east side, if that really is the goal, is better ensured” by waiting until after the adoption of an urban agriculture ordinance.

For more details on the proposed sale, read “Cock o’ the Lots: Detroit Residents Fight Back a Land Grab.”


To take action:

Tweet and Facebook (as an organization and personally) about the deal.

Twitter hashtags:  #Hantzlandia #LandGrab #HantzOff #DetroitFuture

Sample tweets

  • Halt the Detroit #LandGrab. #Hantzlandia offered 1900 lots for $300 each with tax breaks?! No tax breaks for urban ag?! #HantzOff #DetroitFuture.
  • Please stop the Detroit #LandGrab. Detroit is turning public land into a private estate. #HantzOff #DetroitFuture.
  • Detroit is becoming #Hantzlandia with the #LandGrab. 1900 acres going to a private developer, not the awesome community farms. #HantzOff #DetroitFuture

See all tweets here.

Write an editorial for a local paper, an article for a blog, or post a video on youtube.

Sign onto the Solidarity Statement of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. Email info (at) usfoodsovereigntyalliance (dot) org.