01/22/2013 08:51 am ET Updated Mar 24, 2013

$1-billion Commonwealth Of Belle Isle Idea Greeted With Skepticism From City Officials, Stakeholders

Even in a pro-business setting like the Detroit Athletic Club, a Utopian vision to remake Belle Isle as an independent commonwealth ran into healthy skepticism today.

Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, told developer Rodney Lockwood and his partners that they hadn't done enough to explain how their idea for a wealthy, virtually tax-free enclave on Belle Isle would benefit Detroit itself. "Having rich neighbors doesn't make you rich," he said, pointing to the example of upscale Grosse Pointe right next to Detroit, one of the poorest cities in the nation.

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