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Detroit will purchase Michigan State Fair property pending City Council approval

Michigan State Fairground
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
A sign designating the Michigan state fairgrounds as a historic site.

Pending the approval of city council, Detroit will purchase roughly 142 acres of land that was once home to the Michigan State Fair. The fairgrounds, purchased by the city for $7 million from the Land Bank Fast Track Authority (MLBFTA) Board of Directors, have sat largely unused for a decade.                                     

On Wednesday, the board approved proposals to sell the plot to the city and retired NBA-star Magic Johnson’s real estate company, Magic Plus, LLC. As part of the proposed deal, Magic Plus would purchase about 16 acres located primarily along Woodward Avenue.

Detroit’s 2018-19 budget allocates $4 million from the general fund to cover the $3.5 million up front cost of the $7 million purchase. The rest would be paid after development is complete.

Joel Ferguson, a prominent developer for Magic Plus, said plans for the company’s 16 acres are not official as of yet, but they could include one of Magic Johnson’s Magic theater’s.

“We’re not ready to make a specific announcement exactly what we’re going to be doing with the parts of the property we have,” Ferguson said.

In a statement Wednesday, Josh Burgett, MLBFTA director, said the pending deal reflects public and private collaboration in an effort to create jobs and revitalize a historic site.

“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,” Burgett said.

Originally from New Jersey, Lara is a senior at the University of Michigan studying English and Spanish. She's an Online News and Investigative Intern at Michigan Radio and a recent alum of The Michigan Daily, where she's served as Managing Editor of The Statement Magazine and Summer Editor in Chief. When she's not at Michigan Radio, she can be found listening to Bruce Springsteen or exploring a national park.
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