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September 6, 2012

“Magic” Johnson Backs Up Michigan State Fairgrounds Mixed-Use Redevelopment

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson—a Lansing native now turned entrepreneur—has teamed up with businessmen  Joel Ferguson, also of Lansing, and Marvin Beatty of Detroit in one of the most ambitious revitalization projects proposed in Detroit in the past years.

The venture plans to acquire the former State Fairgrounds site at Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road, a 164-acre property owned by the state of Michigan, and transform it into a mixed-use development that would feature an upscale theater complex, retail and office space, several restaurants, multifamily townhomes, senior housing and an Amtrak station. The 500,000-square-foot development proposal also calls for a recreational park along State Fairgrounds Road. An exact sale price is yet to be disclosed, according to Deadline Detroit.

Due to lack of funds, the property has been vacant for almost four years. In April 2012 Gov. Rick Snyder visited the fairgrounds site to sign a bill that allowed the state government to sell the property under the close supervision of an advisory committee made up of area representatives.

According to MLive.com, most of the existing buildings—except the Coliseum, Joe Dumar’s Fieldhouse, the State Fair Band shell and the Dodge pavilion—will be demolished to make room for Johnson’s project, which is currently being reviewed by the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority (MLBFTA). If approved, the project would generate more than 2,000 full- and part-time jobs, as well as around 1,800 construction jobs.

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Image credits to Flickr user gbyrne2 

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