Basketball star Magic Johnson and a team of other investors are seeking permission to buy and redevelop the abandoned Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. This real estate transaction could be approved by the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority in the near future. Johnson and his co-developers plan to utilize the land for a movie theater complex and big-box retail stores.

The site, which has been unused for several years, was transferred in 2012 to the Land Bank Fast Track Authority with the intention of redeveloping the site. Some of the details of the proposed transaction have not yet been finalized, including whether the sale price would be paid up front or in installments.

Some members of the community are critical of the project due to the number of historic buildings on the land. The proposed developers have acknowledged that some of them will be torn down. Complaints are also being raised about the new shopping center being too dependent on customers arriving by car and not taking into account new public transit in the area. Many express the desire for the project to be transit-friendly with neighborhoods built around the new shopping area.

The recession caused many major cities to let go of land they could no longer afford. This is opening up new economic opportunities as the economy recovers. If an individual or a development group wishes to develop a parcel of land, it may be wise to allow an attorney to review the plans. An attorney with experience in commercial real estate transactions may be familiar with the local zoning laws and other regulatory requirements that may affect the proposed development.

Source: Detroit Free Press, “State Fairgrounds sale to Magic Johnson could be approved Wednesday”, John Gallagher , October 01, 2013

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