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Target set to open supply chain facility at former Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit

Posted By: The Detroit News on July 10, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

Target Corp. intends to open a supply chain facility in Detroit on the site of the former Michigan State Fairgrounds in an area where a historic building recently was razed, the retailer confirmed Monday.

The facility will be approximately 180,000 square feet on property at 20250 Woodward Ave., a Target spokesman wrote in an email to The Detroit News. A sign at the site says the future facility will open in June 2024.

The Minneapolis-based company, which does not currently operate any stores in Detroit, provided no further information about the future building.

Not everyone is happy about the plan, though, because an historic building was recently demolished on the site close to where the Target distribution center will be located. The former Agricultural Building, 1120 W. State Fair, was one of three former state fairground buildings listed on the federal National Register of Historic Places.

“It is completely gone. It took them until last month to wrap it up,” said Frank Hammer, co-chair of the State Fairgrounds Development Coalition, referring to the demolition.

The coalition has opposed parts of the plan for the redevelopment of the 160-acre former state fairgrounds near Woodward Avenue and Eight Mile Road. The site was home to the state fair from 1849 to 2009.

Preservationists and others fought to save the three historic buildings after the city initially intended to raze the other two historic structures, the Hertel Coliseum and Dairy Cattle Barn. Those buildings are on part of the site now owned by the city of Detroit and where an indoor transit center is being built. Parts of the two historic buildings were saved after outcry from preservationists and others.

The former Agricultural Building is located on part of the 142 acres owned by Detroit-based Sterling Group and Dallas-based Hillwood Enterprises LP. Also on the site is a massive Amazon distribution center.

The developers did not return emails and phone calls from The News. The former Agricultural Building was razed without uproar because “so few knew about it,” Hammer said.

In 2004, the building became a Joe Dumars Fieldhouse and primarily was used as a place for pickup basketball games. The facility closed last year. The city approved a demolition permit for the former Agricultural Building in late April, according to city records.

Residents were told during a May 31 meeting with a city representative that the Agricultural Building was razed to make way for a Target distribution center, Hammer said.

“We were shown site plans. That distribution center lays right over where the fieldhouse used to be,” Hammer said.

City officials said future plans for site should be answered by the development group. Francis Grunow, a Detroiter active in various historic preservation efforts, was one of those who many lobbied to save the former state fairground buildings.

“It’s disappointing,” Grunow said. “There was so little public knowledge of the plan to demolish the building when clearly there is so much interest in saving them.”

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