The Motor City's Facelift

The Motor City is getting a facelift that will change its meetings landscape and attract business

The massive-scale redesign of Detroit's Cobo Center serves as a fitting symbol for the renaissance of the city's downtown core. Halfway completed, the six-year, $279-million expansion project will modernize the entire existing facility and turn the adjacent Cobo Arena into a 38,000-square-foot ballroom with several underground meeting rooms. Phase II of the renovations, completed at the end of last year, added 22,500 square feet of exhibition space to the main hall.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport is rebuilding one of its runways and making general infrastructure improvements with the goal of reducing carbon emissions. The $15-million project is expected to create jobs and improve airport safety. In addition, free Wi-Fi service in the airport's terminals will begin this fall.

"These substantial federal grants for Detroit Metro will create jobs and significantly improve the safety and infrastructure at Michigan's largest airport," says U.S. Senator Carl Levin, who is a champion of the project.

A taxiway and runway will be reconstructed with a grant of nearly $13.2 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The second grant, also from the FAA, will be used to fine-tune the central power system for the entire airport and install low-emission natural gas boilers.

Michigan's first Aloft hotel is expected to open in the historic David Whitney building on Woodward Avenue in Detroit in July, 2014 after an $82 million gut renovation. The building, designed by famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and erected in 1915, has been empty for several years. The new hotel will have 136 guest rooms and substantial meeting and event space.

Detroit's Pontchartrain Hotel, which closed in 2009 and has been held in receivership since, was sold to Mexican hotel developer Gabriel Ruiz in April. The 413-room hotel could be redeveloped as a Crowne Plaza property and reopen as early as 2013.

Last month, the Livonia Michigan Hotel was rebranded as the Fairfield Inn & Suites Detroit Livonia after a large-scale renovation of its business center, 640 square feet of meeting and event space, and a fitness center. The hotel added 10 executive king suites each offer a separate bedroom area and sofa bed, two 32" flat-panel TVs, refrigerator, and microwave. The bathrooms feature granite countertops and new mirrors and lighting.

In June, the Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo opened a new 250-room tower, bringing the property up to a total of 415 rooms. There will also be a new multi-use event center, called the Silver Creek Event Center, and a new Hard Rock Caf� restaurant.

Last February, the Amway Grand Plaza hotel in Grand Rapids completed a high-tech renovation of its largest meeting space, the 8,750-square-foot Ambassador Ballroom. The $2.4 million facelift included the addition of color-changing LED lighting, state-of-the-art control systems, and additional A/V connection points for maximum setup flexibility. SM