An agreement reached on Wednesday states that the City of Detroit will purchase the vast majority of the Michigan State Fairgrounds from the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority. The city will purchase 142 acres for $7 million and the developer that was tasked to develop the site five years ago, Magic Plus, LLC, will pay $472,000 for the other 16 acres along Woodward Avenue and 8 Mile Road on the city’s north side. Magic Plus, a company associated with former Michigan State University and NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, failed to do anything constructive with the site since 2013 but hopes are high that a smaller 16 acre site will be more manageable for the development firm.
As of now, there has been no word on what could become of the 142 acre parcel but the city “has said it hopes the site will house at least one business that can employ up to 2,000 Detroiters.” In years’ past many ideas have been generated for the fairgrounds including light industrial space to attract Taiwanese company FoxConn, a mixed-use development with residential, commercial, and restaurant space, and a transit-centric green space with parks and urban agriculture.
In front of the fairgrounds’ coliseum on Wednesday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said, “A property of this size should be a major employment center for Detroiters … Detroiters need jobs. There is no reason we can’t have 1,000 to 2,000 people working here.” The deal must be approved by the Detroit City Council in spring but if it goes through, the city will gain ownership of the site in the summer.
By Jared Hoffman
Research Associate, JMJ Phillip Group