Michael Jackson complex in Gary, Ind., still largely a dream

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Offline all4loveandbelieve

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Jackson's father holds out hope for the ambitious project in the pop superstar's hometown two years after his death, but hurdles remain.[glow=red:2usgkvl3][/glow:2usgkvl3]

As Michael Jackson fans this summer mark the two-year anniversary of his death, a group led by his father holds out hope it will deliver on promises for a $300-million tourist mecca in Gary, Ind., the battered steel town that was the pop superstar's boyhood home.

Last year, Joe Jackson and Gary Mayor Rudy Clay announced plans for the Jackson Family Center on 300 acres of city-owned land. The plans included moving the 1,000-square-foot Jackson house a few blocks to become part of a complex with a museum, performing arts center and perhaps a casino.

The city still is hopeful Jackson's development group will be able to deliver on the glamorous proposal, which developers promised would bring more than 700,000 visitors and $150 million a year to a city that began a long, steep decline about the same time the Jackson 5 hit the charts with "I'll Be There" in 1969.

But Gary also set out numerous hurdles for Jackson's group, not least of which was securing financing for the project and the rights to Michael Jackson's likeness — which is closely guarded by the late performer's estate.

Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson, joined Joe Jackson as an officer in the Jackson Family Foundation, a not-for-profit organization incorporated in Joe Jackson's home state of Nevada in 2010 to lead the Gary project. Although Katherine Jackson draws an allowance from her son's estate and will inherit half of it, Joe Jackson was estranged from Michael for years and received nothing in his will.

Asked whether the estate had any involvement in a proposed Gary museum, Howard Weitzman, the estate's attorney, replied via email, "No!!"

Tax records for a nonprofit organization that merged with the Jackson Family Foundation in December list no assets or income. In corporation documents in Nevada, a for-profit development and marketing corporation created by Joe Jackson's group lists capital of $75,000.

The Jackson Family Foundation was required to provide proof it had attained federal tax-exempt status and complete a feasibility study for the project by January. It has done neither, Gary corporation counsel Susan Severtson said.

Further clouding the future is the fact the project's biggest booster, Clay, did not run for reelection. His term ends in January.

Jackson's attorney, Brian Oxman, acknowledges the project has encountered "obstacles."

"I know Joe has always wanted to do something in Gary," Oxman said. "That's where his life was. That's where his family was born. Who knows what can be done?"

Jackson died on June 25, 2009. On the second anniversary of his death last month, hundreds of fans gathered at the old family house in Gary to listen to music and remember the entertainer.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... 4140.story
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