Long-Vacant Fairground Site Finally Getting that “Magic” Touch

In case you were wondering what happened to “Magic” Johnson’s plans to spruce up the neglected Michigan State Fairgrounds in north Detroit, it looks like the project is really happening.

A joint venture between NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Magic Plus LLC and local investors Joel Ferguson and Marvin Beatty is moving forward with the redevelopment of the former State Fairgrounds at Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road in Detroit.

Deadline Detroit reported that all the commercial tenants have been lined up, and a contractor was selected for the development’s residential component. Work at the mixed-use project is scheduled to begin in spring 2016, almost four years after the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority voted unanimously in favor of a redevelopment plan for the 164-acre site. The state land had been sitting dormant for several years before Johnson and his partners purchased the property for $4.65 million in 2013.

The original redevelopment plans called for a mixed-use complex including retail and office space, 500 housing units, recreational space, and an Amtrak station. Now, according to Deadline Detroit, the residential component has been reduced to a few hundred units, and the retail component decreased from 400,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet. But while the overall project seems to have been scaled down, its price tag has increased from $160 million to at least $250 million, and the village-style development is now estimated to generate 700 to 1,000 temporary jobs that will employ local workers.