NBA legend brings 'Magic' to downtown Houston

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by Courtney Zubowski/ KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on October 18, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 18 at 10:21 AM

HOUSTON -- NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson paid a visit to Houston Monday, but it’s wasn’t for basketball -- it was for business.

The sports icon and his business partners at Canyon Johnson Urban Funds bought Hotel Icon for $27 million at a foreclosure auction.

“If anyone can bring the “magic” to it, it’s definitely me,” joked the NBA superstar. “I’ve had some of my greatest moments here and also some of my toughest moments here, you know Ralph Sampson broke my heart when he hit that shot.”

Johnson joined a crowd of hundreds for a grand re-opening party Monday night at the hotel, located in the 200 block of Main St.

Johnson sat down with KHOU 11 News to talk about a planned $5 million renovation project.

“The lobby is going to change. The rooms are going to change. It’s going to be a place where people want to come and hang out after 5 p.m. A place where people can come to eat and drink,” said Johnson.

Hotel Icon is now part of the Marriot “Autograph” collection. It’s the first Autograph in Texas and one of only 25 in the world.

“Each one is individual and representative of its own market, its own owner's vision,” said Alison Cumberland, Marriot Vice President, Hotel Development. “It’s an opportunity for owners to join Marriot without losing their own vision or identity."

On Tuesday, Johnson will spread the magic west. Five years ago, he bought the Marqe Entertainment Center off Interstate 10 near Silber. He’s going to view the results of a $15 million renovation project.

The renovations included knocking a building down and adding the Improv, Drink Houston, Pump It Up and a Houston Police Department storefront.

“I think if we hadn’t of put the money into it, it would have been the same mall, but people see it’s gone to another level and they enjoy it,” he said.

Magic plans to stay in his hotel Monday night and will then head to Austin where he has several other investments.

Expect more to come from Johnson in the Bayou City.

“Houston is a great market and we always look to see where we can invest in the city of Houston,” said Johnson.

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