The Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority board has agreed to the sale of nearly 90 percent of the former Michigan state fairgrounds site to the city of Detroit for redevelopment.
The city would purchase 142 acres for $7 million, pending approval from the Detroit City Council. Magic Plus LLC would purchase 16 acres of it along Woodward Avenue in two noncontiguous parcels, according to a Wednesday news release.
Half of the city’s $7 million purchase price would be paid up front, while the remainder would be paid once it’s redeveloped.
David Williams, senior adviser to Mayor Mike Duggan on his Planning, Housing and Development team, said Wednesday morning that environmental assessments and due diligence on the property should happen in the next several weeks, and the city expects to issue a request for proposals or start to market the property for sale by the fall.
“Primarily we see this as a job creation opportunity,” Williams said. “It is one of the largest developable parcels in the city. Those companies, those developers are all looking for a place that could employ hundreds if not thousands of people.
“We honestly think it is a win for everyone. Magic Plus is able to develop a smaller, more manageable site and we at the city are going to drive the rest of the site.”
Magic Plus LLC is the development group tapped four years ago to redevelop the site, which is owned by the land bank at Eight Mile Road and Woodward Avenue. Its principals are Joel Ferguson, a Lansing developer and member of the Michigan State University board of trustees; Marvin Beatty, chief community officer for Greektown Casino-Hotel; and NBA and MSU legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Magic Plus is paying about $472,000 for its 16 acres.
“We’ve got a number of uses we are working on,” Ferguson said Wednesday morning. “We are going to do some things that the people adjacent to it are really interested in having … Everything we are looking at, we are going to go back to the city planning department and see if that’s what they want, too.”
The group had planned a massive redevelopment of the site with millions of square feet of new space, including residential, retail, office and entertainment uses, but in the 4 1/2 years since a purchase agreement was signed with the land bank little has happened to the site.
“The historic State Fairgrounds is an important site for residents, the City of Detroit and the entire region,” Josh Burgett, director of the fast track authority, said in a statement. “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.”