BRIDGEPORT — After years of trying to court developers like basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson to build on two parking lots at the edge of downtown, the city is taking a different approach.

Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration wants to buy one of the sites from its owner, the Housing Authority, before trying, again, to market the land to investors.

“We want to have control of the two parcels,” Economic Development Director Thomas Gill said. "It just makes sense. ... It’s got great visibility, great location.”

Since the late 1990s, the city has leased 3.7 acres from the Housing Authority between Broad, Lafayette, and Allen streets and South Frontage Road just below Interstate 95.

That land, combined with a neighboring 2.7 acres that backs up to the Metro North train tracks, has served as parking for the entertainment arena and the recently shuttered Bridgeport Bluefish baseball park.

Gill’s department is asking the City Council to approve the purchase the Housing Authority site. The sale price of the parking lot was not immediately known Monday.

“We’re getting appraisals now,” said Cowlis Andrews, chairman of the Housing Authority’s board of directors, which must also vote on any deal with the city. That board is appointed by the mayor.

While not much to speak of — just gravel surfaces surrounded by fences — the two parcels in question are a memorial to never-realized economic development dreams.

They had been the location of the Housing Authority’s long-since demolished low-income Pequonnock Apartments.

In 2007, while Mayor John Fabrizi was in office, NBA star and entrepreneur Johnson proposed building a hotel, movie theater, stores and housing there. That $222 million pitch never became reality.

In 2013, then-Mayor Bill Finch’s administration made a renewed effort to redevelop the land while simultaneously negotiating an end to a dispute with the Housing Authority over past due rent. Barnum Square Partners LLC of Southport, managed by Leo Redgate, expressed interest but, again, nothing happened.

Last year Ganim’s administration released a downtown arts and development plan that included a $35 million, 1,000-car garage for those parcels.

In the months after that plan became public, City Hall decided not to renew the 20-year-old Bluefish team’s contract, opting instead for a proposal by local developer Howard Saffan to turn the baseball ballpark into an amphitheater with big acts drawing big crowds.

Gill said the city is open to different development ideas on the surface parking lots: "It could be retail on the bottom with parking, a hotel, office (space), apartments.”

”It’s gonna take thought,” Gill said of the future of the two lots. ”We need to let the market settle a little bit.”

There is much pending downtown.

Besides the amphitheater, MGM Resorts International has been seeking, so far unsuccessfully, approval from state lawmakers to build a hotel not far from the former ballpark and the arena.

Meanwhile New York-based Exact Capital is still trying to put together financing to redevelop the historic downtown Poli Palace and Majestic theaters and Savoy Hotel and to build an 18-story residential tower. That deal was approved a year ago by the City Council, and Exact has until year’s end to come up with its money.

Although the Housing Authority is slowly updating and/or replacing its buildings, Andrews said the former Pequonnock site is no longer a good match for affordable housing.

“It’s low lying and a flood plain so it’s not really conducive to low-income housing,” Andrews said. “And you have the ballpark and arena so it’s not really conducive to the services for residents we would have there.”

But, Andrews said, beside the cash injection to Park City Communities’ budget, he is looking for the city to provide property elsewhere “so when we do decide to build, they’ll work with us on that.”