Investors seek to buy island from Detroit and start a ‘new nation’
A developer wants the city of Detroit to sell an island that is now a city park to a group of buyers looking to transform it into a new nation.
Rodney Lockwood, a developer from Bingham Farms, a village of 1,100 people about a half-hour from Detroit, is pushing for the city to sell the 982-acre Belle Isle for $1 billion to a group of investors who ‘believe in individual freedom, liberty and free markets,’ according to a website set up by proponents of the concept, commonwealthofbelleisle.com.
During the next three decades, the buyers would establish a ‘remarkable new nation’ of 35,000 people using private money, transforming the island into a quasi-autonomous state with its own government, currency and system of taxation. The large sum paid for Belle Isle would be used to train Detroiters to fill the huge need for construction workers on Belle Isle.
There would be no personal or corporate income tax in this business-friendly utopia.
Most people would buy citizenship to Belle Isle at a cost of $300,000. Twenty percent of the population would be exempt from paying the fee, allowing for some socioeconomic diversity.
All citizens would be mandated to have good credit, no criminal background and command of the English language, according to The Detroit News.
Supporters forecast that a privately owned Belle Isle would rival Singapore ‘as an economic miracle,’ generating ‘billions of dollars in desperately needed economic growth’ and becoming ‘a social laboratory for the western world’ — an experiment in small government.
The construction jobs produced by the massive undertaking and its other economic benefits would restore Detroit ‘to its former glory,’ backers claim.
While the Commonwealth of Belle Isle has prominent supporters, including the retired president of Chrysler, Hal Sperlich, it will probably be struck down by Detroit municipal officials, according to news reports.
Lockwood even acknowledges that the concept is unlikely to be approved, while George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., was quoted as saying the idea won’t advance.
Last fall, Detroit Mayor David Bing and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder reportedly struck a deal handing over the operation and management of Belle Isle to the state.
City Council members were unhappy with the deal, which would have granted a 30-year lease of the island to the Department of Natural Resources, saying it lacked specifics and wouldn’t provide jobs and contracts to the people of Detroit.
The agreement called for the new state to fund renovations and operations of Belle Isle instead of paying rent which the brokers of the deal said would save the city $6 million a year. The state wants the City Council to revisit the issue in 2013.
Attribution: Dan Prochilo, Daily Mail