“Magic” Johnson and Partners Get OK to Buy Michigan State Fairgrounds in $4.65 Million Deal

It’s been more than a year since Lansing native and basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson unveiled an ambitious plan to completely redevelop the vacant Michigan State Fairgrounds at Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road and turn the 164-acre property into a mixed-use complex consisting of retail and office space, housing, recreational space and an Amtrak station.

It’s been more than a year since Lansing native and basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson unveiled an ambitious plan to completely redevelop the vacant Michigan State Fairgrounds at Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road that will transform the 164-acre property into a mixed-use complex consisting of retail and office space, housing, recreational space and an Amtrak station. Several months later, we reported on this page that the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority (MLBFTA) approved the $160 million proposal submitted by Magic Plus LLC, a joint venture between the basketball star and local investors Joel Ferguson, chairman of the Michigan State University board of trustees and owner of Ferguson Development LLC, and Marvin Beatty, chief community officer for Greektown Casino-Hotel.

According to The Times Herald, the MLBFTA board of directors recently OK’d the sale of the former site of the Michigan State Fairgrounds in northern Detroit for $4.65 million to an investment group comprised of Magic Plus LLC and REDICO, a real estate development and investment company based in Southfield, MI. The deal, which is expected to close on or before January 15, 2014, calls for a 90-day inspection period of the site and revised development plans following public input.

“The State Fairgrounds site has sat idle for four years, so it is encouraging to now have a plan approved for its redevelopment. The proposed development by Magic Johnson and his team will improve the quality of life for our citizens by providing more shopping, entertainment and housing options,” said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing in an official statement, adding that “the project will further revitalize the 8 Mile and Woodward corridor as we continue our efforts to transform Detroit.”

In total, the project will generate around 1,300 permanent jobs and more than 500,000 square feet of new construction, with 70 percent dedicated to retail space. The property, which has been vacant since 2009, currently features 20 standalone buildings. All but four of them—namely the Coliseum, Joe Dumar’s Fieldhouse, the State Fair Band shell and the Dodge pavilion—will be demolished to make room for new structures.

Image via Magic Johnson’s Facebook page