Amtrak station proposed for former Michigan State Fairgrounds site

From The Detroit News:

Star athlete turned entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a part of a group  that submitted a proposal to redevelop the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit  into a site for a movie theater, housing and restaurants.

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

The 500,000-square-foot development is expected to include a movie theater,  small park, restaurants, townhouses and senior living complex, as well as a  grocery store.

The project, which could bring an estimated 1,300 jobs to the Detroit area,  would 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 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 Gateway project along Eight  Mile and Woodward includes a Meijer anchor store, McDonald’s, Marshalls and K & G fashions stores. The $72 million project is set to open next year.

The potential for synergy between the two projects pleases Tami Salisbury,  executive director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association. Despite the demise  of the Michigan State Fair, Salisbury is excited that someone may develop the  property.

“Coupled with the Gateway project, we couldn’t be more thrilled to see more  projects,” she said. “… I’m hoping to see some high-caliber restaurants.”

A five-member Michigan State Fairgrounds Advisory Committee will scrutinize  development plans for the site. Member Frank Hammer said the committee is eager  to delve into the “actual nuts and bolts” of the proposals.

The mixed-use proposal seems like a move in the right direction, but some  believe there should be a continuation of the fair on the site, Hammer said.

“We don’t want the local business entities that  service our communities to go into mothball because of a development that’s at  the state fairgrounds,” he added.

Johnson’s movie theaters are in urban areas around the country, including  Harlem and South Central Los Angeles. He is involved in Detroit Venture  Partners, a firm that finances startup companies,  with Quicken Loans Inc.’s Dan Gilbert and ePrize founder Josh Linkner.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing declined comment.

From The Detroit News: