With the 2014 Auto Show in full swing, Detroit’s painful financial decline which reached a climax last summer with the historic filing for bankruptcy seems like it never really happened. Nearly 1 million visitors from around the world are expected this year at the 25th North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) which will offer an impressive array of over 700 vehicles and 50 or more new model introductions from the world’s biggest automakers. It’s a financial boost for the Motor City as experts estimate the auto show will generate nearly $400 million for the area’s economy and billions in terms of profit for its three car makers: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.
But the auto show’s economic impact doesn’t stop here. According to the Associated Press, business is booming for the hotels in Detroit and the surrounding area as occupancy rates reached 85 percent a week before the grand opening of the show which is scheduled to take place between January 13 and 26 at the (almost) newly renovated Cobo Center, one of the largest convention centers in the country offering over 700,000 square feet of prime exhibit space.
In fact, the 50-year-old Detroit convention center itself is one of the attractions at this year’s auto show. Located in the heart of Detroit along Jefferson and Washington Avenues and named for Albert E. Cobo, who was Mayor from 1950 to 1957, the convention center opened in 1960 under plans designed by architect Gino Rossetti.
In 2009 the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority selected Albert Kahn Associates of Detroit to design the $279 million renovation and expansion plans meant to improve Cobo Center’s customer experience and drive economy to Metro Detroit. Scheduled to be completed by January 2015, the redesign process is currently in its third and most expensive phase at $229 million. Apart from significant upgrades to the exterior of the building and the creation of new meeting spaces and a food court, during this phase the development team completed a new 30,000-square-foot Atrium facing the Detroit River and converted the former Cobo Arena into a 40,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom that features two hydraulic platforms that rise from below the floor to form an instant stage—the perfect display place for Ford’s new F-150 truck. The first two phases of the renovation process covered improvements of the convention center’s electrical infrastructure, the creation of 400 new parking spaces, reroofing and the addition of 25,000 square feet of exhibit space. According to MLive.com, at the end of Fiscal Year 2013 the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority announced a surprising profit of $287,426 generated by high parking revenues and low operating costs.
Images via Cobo CenterCorrection: The profit announced by the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority at the end of Fiscal Year 2013 was $287,426, not not $290 million as it was reported in this article because of a regrettable editing error.