After failing to lure additional developers to the 157-acre state fairgrounds site, the Michigan Land Bank recently voted to accept the bid put forward by Magic Plus, LLC. With former NBA superstar Earvin "Magic" Johnson as the frontman of group, these guys can flash the cash necessary to get something done on such a massive site. Their plan, however, is a confusing jumble of parking lots, big-box storefronts, senior housing and a movie theatre. Many say that underutilizes the rare opportunity this huge, centrally-located space presents. So let us take a look at META Expo. It's an alternative plan created by the State Fair Development Coalition, which has no funding yet brings some very interesting ideas to the table. And the renderings are fun, so take a look. META (Michigan Energy Technology Agriculture) is meant to create innovative business and and research by incorporating the adjacent neighborhood of Penrose, with which it has a permeable border, and developing the area as a bus/rail transit hub. It has a focus on advanced green technologies, making the site a world-leader in the area.
What META includes:
· Preservation of existing buildings; Magic Plus plans on tearing nearly all down
· Keeping space open for a State Fair or similar convention-style activities
· Creation of a university/research area along the edge of the site
· Parking structures topped by greenhouses
· Urban agriculture in conjunction with gardens in Penrose
While Meta Expo is probably prohibitively ambitious, it's hard not to love the idea of integrating struggling neighborhoods with new development. It's also a good launchpad for ideas to add to the Magic Plus Proposal, which the Michigan Land Bank says is far from set in stone. Check out details of the plan in this PDF by Growtown, the neighborhood planning non-profit aiding in the design.
· Growtown - Detroit [Official]
· A fair chance ahead [MetroTimes]
· Magic Johnson's Michigan State Fairgrounds development proposal accepted [MLive]
· Magic Plus vs. META Expo [Dome Magazine]