Cobo official open to expanding at Joe Louis Arena site

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Detroit — The chairman of the board that operates Cobo Center said he’s open to the idea of adding convention space in the planned mixed-used development where Joe Louis Arena now stands.

That potential development deal for the riverfront Joe Louis Arena was announced early Thursday in Detroit’s bankruptcy case. The last major holdout creditor agreed to take control of the city-owned property along with a parking garage. Bond insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. aims to replace the aging arena with a hotel, riverfront condominiums and retail.

The arena and parking garage are next to Cobo Center, which has gone through a $279 million renovation and expansion. Cobo officials have been eying that Joe Louis space to possibly add more conference space and parking. Thursday’s deal may not change that fact.

“We’d love to look at the plans and sit down and talk about it,” said Larry Alexander, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. He also is chairman of the board of directors of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, which operates Cobo Center.

“We need both, parking and conference space,” Alexander said. “And preferably those additions, particularly the added conference space, would be connected to Cobo,” he said.

Parick Bero, CEO/CFO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, released a written statement of the deal. “A professionally operated mixed use development on the Joe Louis Arena site would be another economic boost that is good for the DRCFA and all Michigan taxpayers,” Bero wrote.

“We’re looking forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with our new neighbors.”

Any possible development won't be built until 2017 or open until 2022, according to terms of the deal. It must include at least 300 rooms and cannot exceed 30 stories.

Staff writers Robert Snell and Christine Ferretti contributed to this report.

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