DETROIT - Perhaps the biggest debut at the North American International Auto Show isn't anything on wheels.
This year is really the coming out party for the newly renovated Cobo Center, and it's been one of the nicest surprises for the 300,000-plus visitors to the auto show.
It was over a decade in the making, marked by ugly city-versus-suburb politics, but it opened the door to regional funding of $279 million and the city is now reaping the benefits.
The atrium gives Cobo an indoor town square where on Monday they could flee the winter chill and celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
As good as the view is, others like it from the outside looking in.
"I like the outside facade," said one Cobo visitor. "It's so much better, because we come around the People Mover every time."
People are proud to show a fresher face to everyone, including city, suburb and visitors from beyond southeast Michigan.
"It's beautiful. I love the way you can get to the Riverwalk," said a visitor.
"It's totally different from when we were here for concerts," said another Cobo visitor.
But the biggest raves come from diners in the new food court who love the expanded menu.
Downstairs, visitors can get ready for the grand prix with their own trip to victory lane, or learn about what schools like Wayne State, Michigan and Michigan State can offer young people looking to enter the industry.
Customizers like DUB showcase what you can do with a little imagination and a lot of money to fulfill your automotive fantasies.
Yet to come, Michigan Hall downstairs will get a face-lift. Outside, mega video walls will boost revenue potential and promote events. An upgrade for the rooftop parking is also planned.
That still leaves the city of Detroit 19th in the nation in terms of floor space and begs the question: What happens after the Wings move out of Joe Louis next door?
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