01/28/2013 01:36 pm ET

RecoveryPark Nonprofit Hopes To Buy Detroit Land For Fish Farm, Greenhouses, Food Businesses

Investor John Hantz may have given up his dream to create the world's largest urban farm in order to grow trees. But another effort is now underway to set up farming operations near Eastern Market and a fish farm on the city's east side.

The nonprofit RecoveryPark is trying to negotiate with the city to acquire vacant, publicly-owned land in a three-square-mile range just east of Eastern Market for farming, a food center and food-related businesses.

The website Curbed notes that only about 25 to 30 acres of the project are designated for food-growing operations, leaving "an awfully large amount of land unaccounted for."

RecoveryPark also wants to buy a 45-acre industrial site somewhere on the east side to use for an indoor tilapia fish farming operation, Crain's Detroit Business reports.

RecoveryPark's website bills the project as a "10-year, multimillion dollar planned community redevelopment project" organized "to help residents who are recovering from addiction, those returning to the community from prison, and others through personal and economic empowerment."

In addition, the initiative also seeks to anchor larger development like education and support centers, commercial and housing development, as well as other “to be determined” projects.

The project is backed by the nonprofit SHAR (Self Help Addiction Rehabilitation), which first started plans for RecoveryPark in 2008, and led by President and CEO Gary M. Wozniak.

Crain's reports that RecoveryPark has only gathered about $1.4 million of the $15 million in funds it needs to begin work.

The negotiations over John Hantz' purchase of about 140 acres on Detroit's east side sparked a city-wide debate about land use, with some claiming the city was giving the investor special treatment because of his wealth.



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