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Cobo finance group meets


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Monday, December 6, 2004

Cobo finance group meets

The unit regroups after months and will receive an update on the engineering study.

By Amy Lee / The Detroit News

The regional group charged with devising a way to raise millions for Cobo Center is taking another step Tuesday to determine how much an expanded center will cost.

It will be the group's first meeting since August.

Members of the Tourism Action Group, a regional group formed nearly two years ago to study the feasibility and business needs of the Cobo Center project, will receive an update on an engineering study, said Jim Townsend, executive director of the Tourism Economic Development Council, an arm of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

TAG meetings are private. Public opinion will be sought once the group has reached a consensus, he said.

"Once the study is done, we'll have a high degree of certainty about how much it will cost to physically expand and modernize Cobo Center," Townsend said. Estimates to expand and renovate the 700,000-square-foot facility hover around $600 million.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association is footing the bill for the $100,000 engineering study to determine how much money and time is needed to pay for a major overhaul. The study should be completed by mid-January, Townsend said.

Cobo, home to the North American International Auto Show, has been targeted for a makeover due to its age and size limitations. Cobo was built in 1960; its most recent expansion occurred in 1989.

Detroit officials have requested Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties extend their Cobo debt agreement, which funnels hotel and motel taxes and a percentage of liquor taxes into Detroit's coffers, through 2045. Other options have not been publicly discussed.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is pushing for the city to find a private investor to pay for upgrades and to run the facility.

You can reach Amy Lee at (248) 647-8605 or alee@ detnews.com.

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