DETROIT-A report from the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau on the future of the region’s major convention center is due early next month, says a local hotelier who sits on the bureau’s board. Victor Martin, an owner and general manager at the Sterling Inn in Sterling Heights, says the bureau is expected to issue a report this week outlining four possible options for a major convention center in Detroit and will recommend which of the options to follow.

Martin spoke about the convention plan with minutes after Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had left the banquet center at the Sterling Inn, where he spoke to a Sterling Heights Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon crowd. Kilpatrick says a convention center that can accommodate the needs of the North American International Auto Show is one key area–public transportation the other–where regional cooperation is needed between Detroit and the suburbs.

Martin says four scenarios were studied by the Convention & Visitors Bureau: doing nothing; doing repair and upgrade work at the existing Cobo Center in Downtown Detroit; upgrading and expanding Cobo; or building a new facility. “It can’t be left alone,” Martin said, declining to offer any further personal opinion on what the best course of action is.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which puts on the annual auto show at Cobo, have made it known for several years that the show has outgrown the available space at Cobo. Kilpatrick said Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities would be interested in becoming the new host city to the auto show.

“We don’t appreciate what we have here in the auto show. It is one of the things that helps make us the hub of the auto industry and that is important for the city and for the suburbs,” Kilpatrick says.

Following his comments at the luncheon, Kilpatrick said his administration is interested in working with suburban businesses that want to do business in the city. “There’s a number of strong retail operations in the suburbs that could do well in Detroit,” the mayor said, adding that his main message to the region and to the world is that “Detroit is open for business; we want to talk to you.”

The mayor said he had just returned from the International Shopping Center convention in Las Vegas, where he and his development team were working to lure “big-box” retailers to the city. Kilpatrick said an announcement likely would be coming soon.

Kilpatrick said he recently participated in a meeting with executives of the Hard Rock Cafe chain, which opened a location in the Compuware Building Downtown last year. He said the chain reached its sales expectation for the first year of operation–$3 million–in about six months. “They tell people that and word gets out,” Kilpatrick said. “Businesses are interested in locating in the City of Detroit.”

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