Renovation Update

We intend to stir the imagination. And invite visitors to discover what makes things hum here. Our determination will not lag until this project is completed. Until this symbol of the living spirit of Detroit is raised upon the banks of the mighty river for all the world to see.

Cobo Center Renovation Program 2010 - 2015

Renovation Budget:  $279 million
Construction scheduled in three phases:

  • Phase 1, $3.25 million - COMPLETED January 2010
  • Phase 2, $46.94 million - COMPLETED January 2012
  • Phase 3, $228.8 million - COMPLETED December 2015
  • $20 million - 30 year Capital Lease, City of Detroit

Program Objectives

Broad Program Objectives

  • Fulfill Cobo Center's primary purpose as a generator of economic activity in the Southeastern Michigan region.
  • Make Cobo Center financially viable while preserving and protecting it.
  • Increase the competitiveness of Cobo Center in the highly competitive market for conventions, conferences, trade shows and other special events.
  • Establish meaningful connections with downtown and the Detroit River.
  • Demonstrate results that affirm the concept of regional cooperation.

Detailed Program Objectives

  • Significantly improve Cobo Center’s customer experience.
  • Reduce Cobo Center’s customer costs while improving customer service.
  • Create a visual impact that helps market Cobo Center.
  • Provide for the technology needs and expectations of customers.
  • Enhance safety and security.
  • Improve efficiency to reduce operating costs.
  • Assure reliability in systems and operations.
  • Achieve significant energy savings and obtain a "Green Building" designation.

Renovation Program Phases

Phase I - completed January 2010 on time and on budget

  • $3.25 million budget                                                
  • Phase I exhibition electrical power improvements to reduce customer cost.
  • Exhibit hall roof leak reduction.
  • First phase of the exhibition hall floor box upgrade to eliminate leaks.

Phase IIa - completed December 2011 on time and on budget

  • $20.47 million budget.
  • Infrastructure upgrades in areas not included in major projects.
  • Improve air handling system to improve efficiency and extend life.
  • Plumbing system upgrades, including exhibit halls.
  • Compressed air system upgrade.
  • Fire protection system upgrades.
  • Install centrally monitored parking revenue control system.
  • Additional roof leak reduction and partial reroofing.
  • Installed energy efficient lighting for a 60 percent energy savings in 723,000 square feet of exhibit halls.
  • Upgraded closed-circuit television security system.
  • Improved communications infrastructure.
  • New access control system.
  • Concrete floor renewal, especially in loading docks and exhibition halls.

Phase IIb - completed December 2011 on time and on budget

$26.47 million budget 

  • Enclosure of loading docks for major energy use reduction and significantly improved materials handling.
  • Second phase of exhibit hall power upgrade.
  • Creation of covered, secured parking under Detroit Hall (Congress Street Garage) to provide 420 sheltered parking spaces with direct access to main concourse.
  • Addition of 23,000 square feet of exhibit space and additional loading docks for a total of 31 covered docks.
  • Continue the facility reroofing
  • Energy savings in 2012 exceeded $2 million.

Phase III - phased completion dates included

Phase 3 $228.8 million
Scheduled for full completion 2015, with portions finished before then, as noted:

3a ($34.9 million)

  • Reconstruction of Washington Boulevard parking garage, including floor replacement (Reopened December 2012)
  • Creation of drop-off/turn around on Civic Center Drive to support Atrium and Joe Louis Arena traffic. (Completed December 2014)
  • Modify Civic Center Drive/Jefferson Avenue connection to eliminate ramp through Atwater Garage and to create plaza adjacent to Food Court and Grand Ballroom. (completed December 2014)
  • Reconstruct rooftop parking area to replace concrete, drainage system and parapet, install solar-powered lighting, improve building entrances, and insulate roof. Finish reroofing program. Install backup electrical power system. Finish upgrades to HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, electrical, lighting and communications systems. Install additional energy-efficient lighting. (Completed January 2014).

3b ($193.9 million)

  • Construct new 30,000-square-foot Atrium. (Completed September 2013)
  • Redevelop the former Cobo Arena as a 40,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, with pre-function area, new central kitchen, Food Court and additional meeting rooms. (Completed September 2013)
  • Redevelop south side of building along the Detroit River to reorganize space and create pre-function areas, new meeting and breakout rooms, two new junior ballrooms, and integrate the space with new Atrium. Create back-of-house storage and service circulation areas. Create new glass-enclosed exterior wall. Add escalators, elevators and lobbies to access the room parking, new administraion offices, and Atwater Street/Atrium; renovate Atwater Street entrance and add drop-off - turnaround adjacent to Joe Louis Arena. (Level 3 meeting toom & corridor renovations completed December 2013; Level 1 & 2 renovations completed November 2014.)
  • Redevelop east façade, with new exterior skin to improve appearance and energy efficiency. Create lounge seating overlooking main concourse. Install 4,800-square-foot and 2,900-square-foot high-tech “video walls” into a new entrance canopy and north atrium. (North Entrance and Video Wall completed December 2014; South Entrance Canopy & Video Wall completed September 2014)
  • Redevelop east side of building to make its customer space and circulation areas compatible in design with other new parts of Cobo Center. Create more usable space in the main concourse. Consolidate existing food areas with the new Food Court. Reconfigure current offices as rentable customer space. (completed December 2014.)
  • Redevelop Michigan Hall to coordinate its appearance with the new Atrium. Install energy-efficient lighting. Update communications infrastructure. (completed December 2014)
  • Create new building offices to increase rental space available to customers in central areas, and improve access to service and customer areas. (Completed June 2014)

Cobo Center Atrium ($22.6million) (completed September 2013)

  • Create a signature space
  • Open views from the Main Concourse to the Detroit River and Canada
  • Create a second main entrance with easier drop-off capabilities
  • Create a direct connection between new riverfront entrance and Main Concourse
  • Connect the Main Concourse to lower level customer spaces<
  • Improve the visibility and usability of lower level spaces
  • Cost: $22.6 million out of the $279 million construction costs
  • Dimensions: 250 feet long, 80 feet tall and 65 feet wide. The Atrium is three stories tall, but is technically two floors and a mezzanine
  • Floor space: 30,000 square feet of contiguous space, 16,000 square feet on the main floor between the columns
  • Capacity: 600 people seated for meals, 1,000 people seated theater-style, and 1,200 people standing
  • Glass: Roof and south face consist of 19,000 square feet of Michigan-sourced glass
  • Tile: Floor covered with 30,000 square feet of porcelain tile from Italy
  • Marble: Columns covered with 315 tons of “Sunset” marble from Portugal

Cobo Center Grand Ballroom (completed September 2013)

  • Adapt and reuse the former Cobo Arena
  • Expand useable space and facility’s capabilities
  • Open the building to views of Hart Plaza and the Detroit River
  • Provide additional options for customer use
  • Create a premier ballroom and banquet venue
  • Provide additional meeting space and pre-function areas
  • Modernize retail food service and catering facilities• Grand Ballroom is 40,000 square feet, dividable with a retractable wall
  • Glass-enclosed pre-function space
  • Open-air terrace
  • Grand view of the Detroit skyline, the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario<
  • Equipped with hydraulic lift stage for dramatic introductions
  • Standing room for 5,000 people
  • Seating for 3,600 people theater-style or 2,500 people for banquets
  • Possible functions: Banquets, weddings, award ceremonies, dinners, political conventions, media presentations, gala balls and more
  • Food and beverage services are provided by Centerplate, Cobo Center’s hospitality partner
  • 11 new meeting and breakout rooms below the ballroom that can be combined into larger spaces

Kitchen & Food Court opened December 2013:

  • All-new 8,000-square-foot kitchen with private tasting room
    New Food Court adjacent to ballroom and 250-seat Cyber Café

Cobo Square plaza: opened 2015

  • 50,000 sf of exterior plaza & vehicle drop-off north of the Food Court

Fact Sheets


For high resolution images go to the Cobo Center Press Room

Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority PR Contact

All media inquiries should be directed to:
Sara Campbell 
Lovio George Communications + Design
[email protected]