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Magic Johnson to redevelop Michigan State Fairgrounds

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September 2, 2012 by Benji


Like most people in South East Michigan, I remember going to the state fair grounds and having fun. Then feeling the disappointment when it was announced that the fairgrounds were closing. Being in the Commercial Real Estate business myself, I was excited about the gateway project. This Power Center will give folks in North West Detroit as well as the surrounding areas (including but not limited to Ferndale, Royal Oak, Madison Heights and Hazel Park) a place to find quality national retailers. 

This Announcement from Magic Johnson’s camp that they are going to open up another, bigger complex next door is great. Its going to take quite a bit of money a credit to get this off the ground. Magic brings that to the table, as well as experiences in the development world. 

When Magic announced he was joining  DVP with Dan Gilbert and Josh Linkner last year, many people (myself included) assumed he was going to focus his investments in the downtown and midtown areas like Gilbert is doing with Bedrock Real Estate. Their “density plan” is a good one, but it doesn’t recognize the more organic growth in other areas of the city that can sustain it. 

I am glad to see Magic is looking at a bigger picture of Detroit and its real estate opportunity. (To Clarify, my comments are not a critique, of the Bedrock business plan, it will work for that neighborhood, but I’m glad to know there are other people do other things in Detroit).

Read below for the Detroit News Article

Magic Johnson-backed proposal seeks to redevelop Michigan State Fairgrounds

Detroit — Star athlete turned entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a part of a group that submitted a proposal to redevelop the Michigan State Fairgrounds site in Detroit to revitalize a city in need of retail shopping.

Johnson, the Lansing native and Michigan State great who now is a part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is working with Lansing businessman Joel Ferguson and Detroit entrepreneur Marvin Beatty in putting a mixed use project together.

The 500,000 square foot development is expected to include a movie theater, pocket park, restaurants, townhouses and senior living complex, as well as a grocery store. The project, which could bring 1,300 jobs to the Detroit area, would also include an Amtrak station

The Magic Plus LLC proposal was one of three bids submitted weeks ago, but was the only potential project allowed to move forward. A spokesman for the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority said the plan is under review.

Ferguson could not be immediately reached for comment.

“Our value is the ability to revitalize the Michigan Sate Fairground property into a destination for living, for shopping and for entertainment,” the bid proposal says. “Our plans are to bring smart retail options, current and modern housing choices and a variety of entertainment opportunities that are available to other communities around the state and found throughout the country.”

The project is expected to be adjacent to the Gateway Marketplace project that is under construction. The 350,000 square foot project along Eight Mile and Woodward is expected to include a Meijer, McDonald’s, and Marshall’s discount and K & G fashions stores. The $72 million project is set to open next year.

The potential to have some “synergy” between the two projects is pleasing to Tami Salisbury, executive director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association. As much as she hates to see the Michigan State Fair go, she’s excited that someone may develop on the property.

“Coupled with the Gateway project, we couldn’t be more thrilled to see more projects,” Salisbury. “Anything that draws people, (provides) potential venues for entertainment in the city and keeps potential tax dollars, that’s a great thing for Detroit. I’m hoping to see some high-caliber restaurants. That would be great to see some restaurants that will keep people in that area. It’s exciting.”

Salisbury is also hopeful the rail line will be used.

After a Hall of Fame basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson went into the business world, setting up ventures such as Starbucks and T.G.I. Fridays restaurants throughout the country. His Johnson theaters are in several urban areas in the country, including Harlem and South Central, Los Angeles. He’s also had a minority state in the Lakers. In March, he was a part of a group that purchased the Dodgers for $2 billion.

“This development moves from talking about what could possibly happen in Detroit, to a discussion about what will happen in Detroit and how we will get there as a Community, a City and as a State,” the bid proposal said of the newest endeavor.

dnichols@detnews.com

(313) 222-2073

via Magic Johnson-backed proposal seeks to redevelop Michigan State Fairgrounds | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.

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