Cobo Center

"Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance"

The next time you're in downtown Detroit, and you walk by the Cobo Center or the People Mover, or in Ypsilanti and you see Washtenaw Community College, or Providence Hospital in Southfield or many other buildings around Southeast Michigan — stop for a moment and remember this name: Charles Novacek.

He was born in what was then Czechoslovakia, and grew up through his country's occupation by the Nazis and then the Communists. He began training as a resistance fighter as a boy of 11, and continued the fight as he grew up. He endured prison and torture before escaping to a refugee camp and, ultimately, to a new life in Michigan.

Charles Novacek became a noted engineer in Michigan, working on many projects in the state that still stand today. And before he died in 2007, he wrote a memoir entitled "Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance".

The book has now been published by Charles Novacek's wife, Sandra. We talk with Sandra about her husband's journey. 

For more information on the book, visit www.charlesnovacekbooks.com.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit's municipal bankruptcy has made the world aware of what Michigan already knew. Detroit is broke. No matter how it turns out, bankruptcy is not going to change things very quickly. Detroit will still be broke. That’s going to force the city to get creative.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: the state of Michigan is not going to bail out Detroit.

And the state of Michigan is not going fully restore revenue sharing from the sales tax with cities such as Detroit.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

When you walk onto the showroom floor at the North American International Auto Show, the bright lights and polished shine of the cars surround you.

You'd think a wash, wax, and polish for the cars would be good enough.

I mean, these things are indoors. What can muck them up?

Dust. That's what.

And not just dust... fingerprints too! (for heaven's sake)

So at the North American International Auto Show, you see a small army of people hovering over the cars with feather dusters, a little towel, and a spray bottle.

Carlos Bryant has been keeping the Bentleys looking sharp at the Detroit auto show for more than a decade.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show is less than a month away.  But part of Detroit’s Cobo Center is still a very active construction site.

Rain is pouring through gaps in the roof.  Construction crews are using heavy equipment.  The space hardly looks like a scenic atrium.

But officials say wait three weeks.

The final phase of a $279 million renovation of Cobo Center is close to completion.

User: Sorakirei / Flickr

Convention Centers in Michigan are starting to emerge from the recession and see more traffic. The Kalamazoo County Expo Center and Detroit’s Cobo Center are also renovating their spaces and improving their services. Thom Connors is General Manager at Cobo Center. He says the convention industry took a hit in 2008, but he sees a new trend.  

Cobo Center Press Release

Cobo Center in Detroit is going to get more than a coat of new paint between now and next year’s auto show.

The regional authority now running Detroit’s downtown convention center announced today Cobo will undergo a $221 million renovation.

Cobo Center’s general manager, Thom Connors, says the three year project will allow Cobo to better accommodate the needs of the North American International Auto Show:

"More leasable space, more attractive space, and increased banquet and meeting room capacity and new exhibition space. Its going to make it an easier sell to a wider variety of potential clients.  And allow us to do larger, multiple events at the same time, as well as larger capacity events in the future."

As part of  the renovation, Cobo Arena will be replaced with a 40,000 square foot ballroom space.

The Detroit Free Press reported on the plans, announced this morning, to renovate downtown Detroit's Cobo Center:

The project will be ready by the 2014 North American International Auto Show, and it will “open up” Cobo to the Detroit River with a new atrium entrance and sweeping architectural changes, said Larry Alexander, chair of the five-member Cobo Regional Convention Facility Authority.

The work will mark the first major overhaul of Cobo since 1989. Cobo was built in 1960. In recent years, Cobo has suffered from roof leaks and other problems, and other cities have leapfrogged ahead of Detroit in the amount of showroom space offered and other amenities.

A bond sale enabled by the Cobo authority will pay for the renovations.

Jdpowers65 / Flickr

Attendance is up at the North American International Auto Show so far this year, the Detroit Free Press reports. The Freep says:

Attendance Monday was 64,520, up from 61,112 from the same day last year, said NAIAS spokesman Sam Locricchio. On opening day Saturday, 86,622 attended the show, compared with 83,715 on the opening Saturday last year, he said. Sunday's attendance was 99,111 -- up from 96,623 for the opening Sunday in 2010, he said.

The show, at Detroit's Cobo Center, is open until Sunday.