Michigan State Fairgrounds Site in Detroit to be sold to City and Magic Plus, Mixed-use Development Planned


The board of the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority today approved proposals to sell the property where the Michigan State Fair was once held to the city of Detroit and Magic Plus. The latter entity includes former NBA and Michigan State University star basketball player, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Under the proposed deal, once final, the city will acquire approximately 142 acres of the property near the southeast corner of Eight Mile Road and Woodward Avenue for $7 million and Magic Plus will purchase approximately 16 acres – primarily along Woodward Avenue – at the per-acre rate agreed upon in its purchase agreement with the Michigan Land Bank.

The acquisition of the land will allow the city to lead the redevelopment process with participation and input from the community.

As for next steps, the transaction must be approved by the Detroit City Council. Recently, the City Council approved the city’s 2018-19 budget, which included $4 million from the general fund to cover the $3.5 million up front cost of the total $7 million purchase price. The remainder of the purchase price will be paid once the land is developed. The City Council will vote on the purchase following environmental reviews expected to take place this spring.

“The historic State Fairgrounds is an important site for residents, the City of Detroit and the entire region,” says Josh Burgett, director of the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority. “All parties involved have worked hard to bring redevelopment to the site and this public/private agreement is marrying two visions for the State Fairgrounds to create jobs and provide commercial destinations for those new employees and current residents.”

The State Fairgrounds site is one of the largest developable parcels of land in Detroit. Burgett says the city will explore different development options that will ensure that the project creates real economic opportunity for Detroiters, including the potential to create thousands of jobs.

Magic Plus will develop the approximately 16 acres of Woodward Avenue frontage in a comprehensively planned development project, subject to final approval of all zoning and permit activities by the city. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources pocket park and the Detroit Department of Transportation transit site will be maintained.

“We are excited about developing the Woodward Avenue frontage at the State Fairgrounds site and we look forward to working with the city of Detroit,” says Joel Ferguson, principal of Magic Plus. “We want to thank Governor Snyder, Mayor Duggan, the Michigan Land Bank, and the citizens of Detroit for their patience in all of our development efforts as we reviewed all environmental, architectural, and infrastructure challenges with this site.”

The site hosted the Michigan State Fair from 1905 until 2009. Governor Snyder signed legislation in April 2012 allowing for the transfer of the site to the Michigan Land Bank to be returned to productive use. Since that time, the Land Bank has been working with the city and Magic Plus to bring redevelopment to the site.

Pending Detroit City Council approval and environmental reviews, the City would take ownership of the land this summer. Magic Plus is expected to take ownership of its approximately 16 acres by May.

The State Fairgrounds site is home to a Joe Dumars Fieldhouse.

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