Even A 'Freedom Advocate' Calls The Belle Isle Commonwealth Plan 'Crazy-Ass'
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, John Gallagher reports in the Free Press.
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.
George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., dismissed the Lockwood vision as “trickle-down” economics that held few benefits for the city itself.
A supporter, former Chrysler exec John Sperlich, said: “Belle Isle would be the most competitive nation in the world – a magnet for capital,” Sperlich added. “C’mon patriots… if not this, what? Here’s a crazy-ass idea...that I think would work.”