Detroit’s residents fight back a persistent land grab John Hantz is eager to close the biggest urban land grab since the Dutch bought Manhattan. He has his sights on 1,956 lots (177 acres) owned by the city of Detroit… at 8ȼ a square foot. Mr. Hantz, a real estate developer, has been clear about his motives, if not his means. He believes that the city’s land is undervalued and he wants to raise its market price by buying it up cheap until it becomes “scarce.” This, he claims, will bring economic development to the rust-belt city that has been devastated by the collapse of its auto industry. The notion that real estate speculation results in urban economic development involves a fair amount of Republican thinking, which explains the resistance on the part of the lower-income residents actually living in the areas where John Hantz wants to buy.