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Plans to be Announced for Convention Ctr on Friday

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Mayor Opens New Exhibit Space, Plans Major Announcement

By Dan Heaton

Last updated: Jan 6, 2004 11:27AM

DETROIT-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said the city has completed steps one and two of improving convention center space in the Motor City. Stayed tuned for Friday when he plans to outline what step three will involve.

Kilpatrick toured the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Convention Center in Detroit late last week and helped cut the ribbon to open a new $800,000 entrance to the 100,000-sf Michigan Hall exhibit space.

"Last year, I told you step one would be rolling out the red carpet and improving the look of the outside and I told you by this year, step two, the Michigan Hall build-out would be done," Kilpatrick told the media, including during his annual visit to the auto show. "On Jan. 9, we'll tell you what step three is going to be. Are we going to build a new facility or are we going to add on and expand here."

The mayor will be the keynote speaker at a luncheon meeting Friday of the Detroit Economic Club. Speculation has been running high that the mayor will announce plans to build a new convention center in the city containing at least one million and possibly as much as 1.5 million sf of convention space. The catch will be how to pay for such a facility, which could cost in excess of $1.3 billion.

Also during the mayor's walk-through at the show, he said the city is working with General Motors and Ford Motor to make permanent a current temporary arrangement that the automakers have at Cobo. Currently the two automakers have temporary meeting facilities, complete with kitchen facilities, at Cobo that they use during and around the time of the NAIAS.

"We are working with them to make those arrangement permanent," the mayor said.

The NAIAS opened with press preview days on Jan. 4 and opens to the public Jan. 10-19. The show annually draws more than 6,500 journalists from around the world and more than 800,000 visitors.

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