Magic Johnson has plans for Michigan State Fair Grounds in Detroit

Detroit's old State Fair Grounds have sat vacant for past 3 years; state wants deal by end of year

DETROIT – One of Michigan's favorite summer destinations has, for the past three years, only attracted weeds.

Now, Magic Johnson and two partners want to develop the State Fair Grounds on the north side of Detroit. Their proposal to the state of Michigan says "a carefully designed blend of potential uses at this strategic location will reactivate this site as a renewed Detroit beacon, another symbol of the ground swell of a reemerging Detroit."

"I look forward to good things happen here on this corner," said Rep. Jimmy Womack, of Detroit.

Womack sponsored a bill allowing the Land Bank Fast Track Authority to market the 157 acres.

"Market-rate homes would be nice. A commercial development would also be nice. A movie theater would be great. Some upscale shopping," said Womack.

Johnson's plan envisions a mix of retail, entertainment and housing. The coliseum would stay. A train stop may be included.

Frank Hammer, who lives 1/4 mile from the grounds, is on the State Fair Grounds Authority Board. He sees the proposal as a positive step, but not a done deal.

"We would love to have retail but we don't want vacant stores in a matter of a few years because they were not sustainable," said Hammer.

Local 4 could not reach Johnson for comment. State officials hope to complete a deal by the end of the year. They have not worked out a sale price.