Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Modest Proposal: Detroit's Convention Hall

This past week's article in Crain's gives an update on the provincial brinkmanship preventing anyone from resolving the region's (alleged) need to expand its convention facility, most notably for the Auto Show. Cobo's footprint is too small -- remember when Coleman wanted to building out over the river? So, may I suggest starting from scratch? There's a whole bunch of assembled land over in Rivertown for the casinos that were never clustered there. It's a blank slate, so why not build a brand new one-level facility which everyone agrees is optimal, like Chicago's McCormick Place (top) and NYC's Javits Center (bottom), both of which are off the beaten path, away from the heart of their respective downtown. Building a new Cobo in Rivertown would justify adding spurs off of both 375 and the People Mover, and could even rejuvenate the railroad tracks which pass under Jefferson by allowing people to take a train downtown from Oakland County (which might help sell Brooks). Development would fill in to the east of the RenCen and, as a bonus, you could re-develop the current Cobo site. As for who owns what, why not create a commission like the Port Authority, with voting reps from each investing/stakeholder: each county, the City and the State. If they don't trust each other enough, they could create a 425 zone, where all the stakeholders actually own the district. And with the authorizing legislation, why not toss in a provision for another casino/hotel to help pay for the thing?


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