You can take the boy out of Detroit (Romeo, Michigan actually) but you can’t take the Detroit out of the boy – even if that boy’s grown to be a very successful man who could easily turn his back on his roots. John Hantz is that man, and “roots” of various kinds are never far from his mind.
Hantz made his pile in the financial services industry and he’s put some of his skills to work, buying up and restoring eight homes in Indian Village, one of Detroit’s more affluent neighborhoods – yes, there are still a few left. Hantz made one of those homes his own, and during his daily commute to and from his suburban office located off of I-696 he couldn’t help but notice the frightening decay of Detroit’s urban milieu.
While Detroit was traditionally a large (in area) city boasting a high proportion of single-family homes, it was also a metropolis carved out of Michigan’s thick and thriving primeval forest. Given a chance, the forest will naturally seek to reclaim what was once its own – many iconic images of Detroit’s deterioration show trees sprouting from the roofs of abandoned buildings and out of the windows of deserted homes. John Hantz wondered if these natural processes could be directed towards revitalizing a reduced but still populated urban area.