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Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

by on Mar.16, 2009

Sometimes the right things are done for the wrong reasons; witness Detroit City Council's decision to kill a planned expansion of Cobo Hall, home of the Detroit Auto Show.

Sometimes right things are done for wrong reasons; witness Detroit City Council's decision to kill a planned expansion of Cobo Hall.

For nearly a week, each January, Cobo Hall becomes my virtual home.  It’s not that I’m seeking asylum, but like thousands of other automotive journalists, I spend most of my waking hours at the annual North American International Auto Show.  Over the decades, I’ve come to know the aging facility well.  And I’ve heard all the arguments raised, during those many years, for expanding it, replacing it – or, if you listen to a few of my frustrated colleagues, simply burning it down to the ground.

Recently, Detroit’s fractious City Council voted down the latest mega-milion-dollar plan to expand Cobo Hall.  In typically absurd style, members of the “august” body called up racist images and turned to divisive city/suburban politics to justify their tortured logic.  The nay vote will now be the subject of an imminent court battle pitting Detroit’s interim Mayor Ken Cockrel against the council, which is led by Monica Conyers, wife of the powerful U.S. Rep. John Conyers.

I must admit, I seldom find myself in agreement with Madame Council President, but this time I think she is arguing for the right move – albeit for all the wrong reasons.  Simply cleaning up and expanding the aging Cobo Hall is little more than putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.  Frankly, the facility does need to be taken down to its foundation.

Why?  Click here to read my editorial, which appeared in today’s Detroit Free Press.

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One Response to “Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason”

  1. markr says:

    Mr Eisenstein’s opinion essay in the March 19 2009 edition of the Detroit Free Press is smart thinking. I believe Cobo Hall should be torn down, and a new, much larger and modern convention hall complex be built along Michigan Avenue, at the site of old Tiger Stadium. A high-speed monorail could connect the complex to downtown hotels and entertainment, linked to the People Mover, and a high-speed commuter rail line could extend to Metro airport and Ann Arbor. The synergy of this site would spur redevelopment of the entire Michigan Avenue corridor in Detroit. The “aeropolis” planned for western Wayne County should be built within the city limits, with a tax-free zone incentive. I cannot imagine a convention hall by Frank Gehry, but it’s a fresh idea and worthy exploring. The audacity of it takes my breath away like nothing does nowadays in Detroit except the extent of the decline and decay.
    I vote for Albert Kahn and Beaux Arts meets Frank Gehry. Time to step out of the old Detroit mindset. Let’s have high-speed rail links to Chicago and Toronto while we’re at it.