Steve Carmody

Mid Michigan Reporter/Producer

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting. During his two and a half decades in broadcasting, Steve has won numerous awards, including accolades from the Associated Press and Radio and Television News Directors Association. Away from the broadcast booth, Steve is an avid reader and movie fanatic.

Q&A

What person, alive or dead, would you like to have lunch with? Why?
My wife. She’s the best company I’ve ever had, or expect to, over lunch.
 
How did you get involved in radio?
I started listening to all news radio when I was about 8 years old. In my teens, when other kids were listening to rock stations, I was flipping between KYW and WCAU in Philadelphia. I was fascinated listening to the news developing and changing through the day. When the time came to decide on what I wanted to study at college, I was drawn to broadcasting and journalism. I spent most of my four years in college at the campus radio station, including two years as news director.  
 
What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
I read (usually two books at a time, one book at work, another at home) and I go to see a lot of movies (about 50 or more a year)
 
What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter/host/etc.?
Covering the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995 was a remarkable experience. It was going to be a quiet day newswise. Not much happening. I was at the state capitol to cover a rally. The earth shattering explosion changed that. I spent the next ten hours wandering around downtown, filing reports to my home station and NPR. For the next six weeks, it was literally the only story my station covered.
 
What one song do you think best summarizes your taste in music?
Zilch. I don’t listen to music.
 
What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio? Why?
This American Life. It’s the best story telling on radio.
 
What's a hidden talent you have that most people don’t know about?
I have no talent. Anyone who knows me well would agree.
 
What is one ability or talent you really wish you possessed?
The ability to cook.
 
What do you like best about working in public radio?
I like having the time to tell a story. I’ve grown tired over time working in commercial radio of trying to tell a complex story in 25 seconds or less. You can tell some stories in less than 25 seconds. But often, a truly interesting story needs a minute, 3 minutes or more to explain.
 
If you could interview any contemporary newsmaker, who would it be?
No one really.
 
Is there a T.V. show you never miss? If so, which one?
The Amazing Race. As a fan and a former contestant, I just enjoy the thrill of seeing different parts of the world.
 
What would your perfect meal consist of?
A light appetizer. A good fish course. A well done steak. A pleasant dessert. A fine 20 year tawny port.
 
What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The computer. It has changed my personal and professional life.
 
What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
That I not only watch Reality TV, but that I’ve been a Reality TV star (retired).
 
What else would you like people to know about you?
I enjoy living in Jackson, MI. So many Michigan cities and towns are struggling these days. Jackson’s no different. But, the people there are forging ahead. Jackson is also committed to being a community. 

Ways To Connect

(Wikipedia Commons)

Since the Japanese nuclear crisis began, the handful of pharmacies in Michigan that stock anti-radiation medicine are seeing an uptick in demand.   

Update: March 16th, 11:18 a.m.

Michigan State police officials have not provided details on why they searched  buildings associated with the Romulus Police Department. State Police Inspector Garth Burnside told the Detroit News that the search warrants were part of an ongoing investigation with the Wayne County prosecutor and the FBI.

The Detroit News reports that the following locations were searched:

  • the Romulus police headquarters
  • the home of Romulus Police Chief Michael St. Andre
  • St. Andre's wife's tanning salon
  • a building housing Police Department records
  • and a residence Burnside declined to identify.

The Detroit News spoke with a lawyer who sued the Police Chief and the City  of Romulus "over the disappearance of $300,000 worth of auto parts seized by Romulus police." The lawyer's client said the auto parts were in a trailer seized by police. According to the News, the Romulus police contended there were no auto parts in the trailer and the case was dismissed in January 2010.
 

March 15th, 11:36 a.m.

The Michigan State Police are saying little about a search warrant served today at the Romulus Police Department.  State Police Inspector Garth Burnside would only confirm that state troopers, along with FBI agents and the Wayne County Prosecutors Office served the warrant at 7 a.m. this morning.

Burnside says the search of the Romulus Police Department is part of an ongoing investigation.

He declined to say what is the focus of the investigation.

(flickr U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Matthew M. Bradley/Released)

Michigan’s Attorney General issued a warning today about a growing number of scams linked to the Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami disaster.  Numerous scams have popped up since last week’s disaster, including a viral video making the rounds on Facebook purporting to show people fleeing the tsunami wave.

 Attorney General Bill Schuette says Michiganders wanting to help should beware of phony charities trying to take advantage of them.  

"Even during tough times, the people of Michigan give generously to charities that assist disaster victims around the world….It's important to take steps to ensure your dollars are not lost to fraud and your financial information remains secure."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A federal bankruptcy judge has decided to give Borders Group another 90 days to review leases for its bookstores.   The Ann Arbor-based bookstore change is working to emerge from bankruptcy later this year. Borders is already closing 200 bookstores across the country, including 4 stores in Michigan.   Borders is expected to announce plans to close additional stores and renegotiate leases on about 600 other outlets. 

The city of Flint has scored a partial victory in its efforts to get its city budget deficit under control.   But there is still more work to do. The city of Flint is looking at a projected $17 million budget deficit.  

City leaders had asked the state for permission to sell $20 million in bonds to stabilize Flint’s budget. But the state only approved  $8 million in bonds. The Flint City Council must still approve the $8 million bond issue. 

Flint mayor Dayne Walling says that will help get the city through the current fiscal year. Flint has already laid off dozens of city employees, including police officers. 

But Walling says Flint may need to cut $12 million in city spending next year. The mayor says a proposed change in state revenue sharing could force evcen deeper cuts next year.

“We of course need to see where the state finally comes down with state revenue sharing when they’re through with their budget process.  Of course the legislature will have its say on the governor’s proposal.”

Flint, like other Michigan cities, stands to lose millions of dollars under the governor’s proposed changes to state revenue sharing.

(Flickr Simon Strandgaard)

The nuclear accidents in Japan have raised questions about the future of about 20 planned new nuclear power plants in the U.S, including one in Michigan. 

DTE’s proposed Fermi 3 nuclear power plant has the potential of helping Michigan meet its future energy needs, as well as its construction generating billions of dollars for the state’s economy. But like 19 other proposed nuclear projects, its future appears murky in the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis. 

A DTE spokesman says it’s “way too early” to speculate on how the events in Japan may affect the utility’s application for Fermi 3. 

Joseph Sindoni is with the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group.   Sindoni says  “Until we understand clearly what’s occurred at Fukashima (Daiichi) nuclear power plants and any consequences, it’s difficult to speculate about the long-term impact.”  

Plans for new nuclear power plants all but dried up after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident and it was only recently that interest in developing alternative energy sources renewed interest in nuclear power.

(mountlebanonlouisiana.com)

The State House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation committee tomorrow will consider legislation to allow young children to hunt in Michigan.  Michigan currently allows children as young as 10 to hunt with a bow and as young as 12 to use a firearm to hunt deer. 

Peter Pettalia is a state representative from Presque Island in northern lower Michigan.  His bill would eliminate the age limit, as along as the young hunter has an adult with them.  

“It gives parents the right to determine when their children are ready in their eyes to safely hunt.   So myself, if I have a grandchild I believe could carry a weapon to hunt, it gives me the opportunity to decide that.”

Pettalia says allowing children to take part may help reverse the decline in the number of hunters in Michigan.   

“We have thousands, hundreds of thousands of acres of huntable land, yet we have the worst hunter recruitment rate in the nation and dwindling hunter retention numbers.”  

Pettalia says he doubts allowing young children to hunt with their parents or adult mentors will increase hunting accidents.   

(Flickr spike55151)

The state agency charged with monitoring radiation at Michigan’s three nuclear reactors has so far not recorded any increased radiation coming from Japan. Japan’s troubled nuclear reactors might be a half a world away, but it wouldn’t be the first time a nuclear accident overseas had an effect on Michigan. 

The state of Michigan has been monitoring radiation levels since January of 1958. Ken Yale is the acting chief of the Department of Environmental Quality’s Radiological Protection Section. His office monitors radiation levels at Michigan’s three nuclear plants (Fermi 2, DC Cook and Palisades). He says the last time his office recorded abnormal radiation readings was back in the mid-1980’s, at the time of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Ukraine.

Experts do not expect a ‘Chernobyl’ level of radiation release from the Japanese reactors, due to improved containment technology.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Republican congressman Mike Rogers says more than a thousand major corporations,unions and other groups have obtained waivers to the new national health care law, so they will not be immediately mandated to carry health insurance or pay a fee instead.    He says they shouldn't be the only ones with that option. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard  is making plans to take over the policing duties in Pontiac.  The city of Pontiac is shutting down its police department as the city deals with severe budget problems. 

The city’s rank and file police officers voted to dissolve their union contract this week.    Other public safety unions must also do the same before the Sheriff’s department takes over.  Sheriff Bouchard says policing Pontiac will pose some public safety challenges to his office. 

Michigan’s new ‘Texting While Driving’ law will get its first test in a fatal auto accident in Lapeer County.  The driver who allegedly caused the accident that killed a 78 year old woman was allegedly texting behind the wheel. 

Detroit posted the biggest percentage drop in home prices in the nation, according to a new report. Clear Capitol says home prices in Michigan’s largest home market slide 13% in February, more than any other major city.

Alex Villacorta  is Clear Capitol’s director of research.   He says home prices in Detroit are being dragged down by banks trying to sell foreclosed homes.    Bank owned homes usually sell at well below market prices.

Foreclosure filings in Michigan have fallen to levels not seen since 2008.   Realty Trac reports foreclosure filings dropped by 30 percent in February compared to a year ago. 

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.  He says mortgage lenders are finding it difficult to get home foreclosures started, since last fall’s scandal involving incorrect paperwork forcing people out of their homes.  New rules require more safeguards in preparing a foreclosure filing.  But Bloomquist says this is only delaying the inevitable for many delinquent home owners.

  “What hasn’t gone away is there are still a lot of properties that eventually we people will be foreclosed on.  That’s really the only solution for some of these situations.”  

Bloomquist says the slowed foreclosure process might help reduce the number of bank owned homes on the real estate market.   The high number of foreclosed homes on the market is blamed for causing depressed home sale prices.

The city of Flint is racing to complete dozens of home demolitions by the end of the month. City crews are racing the clock and the weather to meet a deadline tied to a federal grant.

John Evans watched Wednesday as a piece of heavy equipment tears into a vacant home on Flint’s north side.  Pulling down its brick chimney.  The bricks splintering wood as they fall.  It’s a welcome sight to John Evans.  He lives next door.  Evans says the vacant home has become a magnet to Flint’s homeless, who often set fires inside to stay warm.

(Ohio State University athletic dept.)

Ohio State University head football coach Jim Tressel is facing a two game suspension and a quarter million dollar fine for failing to tell university officials about possible NCAA rules violations. 

Tressel admitted that he didn’t tell university officials that some of his players were part of a federal criminal investigation.  None of the players were the subject of the investigation. Tressel knew about the investigation last April.  But, he didn’t say anything until the university was contacted by the U.S. Justice Department in December.

The Justice Department was trying to confirm whether Buckeye memorabilia in the possession of a Columbus tattoo shop owner was obtained legally. Several players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, admitted exchanging the memorabilia for tattoos. The players were given 5 game suspensions next season. Though, they were allowed to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith says it was only after that that university officials learned of emails that coach Tressel received in April informing him of the federal probe. Smith says the university was about to complete its internal investigation and send the results to the NCAA, when word of Tressel’s actions were reported by Yahoo Sports.

Tressel says his decision not to take action back in April was with the players’ interest in mind, not the OSU football program. SBNATION produced a transcript of last night's news conference.

The NCAA is reviewing Ohio State’s self-imposed penalties. The college sports governing body may accept OSU’s self-punishment or impose penalties of its own.

Update 7:03 p.m.

Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel suspended for two games. Tressel did not report potential NCAA rules violates in a timely manner to OSU officials.

Original post 4:24 p.m.

Ohio State University has called a 7pm news conference to address news reports that head football coach Jim Tressel was aware of potential NCAA rules violations months before university officials learned about them.

The violations involved five Buckeye players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The players allegedly traded memorabilia with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner in exchange for tattoos.

Yahoo Sports reported this week that Tressel was first notified of the possible NCAA violations last April.  

But it was December before any action was taken involving the players. They were suspended from playing during a handful of games next fall. Though they were allowed to play in 2011 Sugar Bowl.  

SBNATION reports Tressel's contract does include penalties if his program commits NCAA violations, including termination of his contract. Neither Tressel or university officials have commented on the allegations made in the Yahoo Sports article.  

OSU president E. Gordon Gee did tell reporters in Columbus that the NCAA has been notified.

OSU athletic director Gene Smith was scheduled to be in Indianapolis this evening, but he has flown back to Columbus to take part in tonight's news conference with Gee and Tressel.

(Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources)

The Obama Administration’s point man on the Asian Carp crisis says there’s no way to speed up the efforts to permanently keep the invasive fish from reaching the Great Lakes.

The Asian Carp have destroyed native fish populations in the Mississippi River and have swum within a few miles of Lake Michigan.  There are concerns that if Asian Carp enter the Great Lakes ecosystem, they will overwhelm and destroy the region's multi-billion dollar fishing industry.

Several members of Congress want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up their 5 year review of possible action plans to stop the carp. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says time is important.

 “We have to have a sense of urgency about it.  The Army Corps is studying this issue now, but it’s going to take them several years…we don’t have several years.  We need to get this done as quickly as possible.”   

But Obama Administration Carp Czar John Goss says the 18 month schedule proposed by members of Congress is not enough time. 

 “Realistically I think it’s going to take substantially longer than that to get the right solution in the long term.”

Major General John Peabody is the commander of the Corps of Engineers ‘Great Lakes & Ohio River’ Division. He says finding a solution will take more than 18 months. 

“I never say never, because you don’t know what you don’t know about the future.   But in our judgment it’s not possible because of the complexity of the situation.”

The president’s top people on the Asian Carp crisis held a public hearing today in Ypsilanti.

(Ford Motor Company)

Rising gasoline prices are apparently spurring interest among car buyers in smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. Gas prices in Michigan are hovering around $3.50 a gallon. In California, the average price for a gallon of gas is nearly $4. 

George Peterson is the president of Auto-Pacific, an automotive marketing research firm. He says gas prices are helping boost interest in small cars. 

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest, especially with the new small cars on the road that are very, very good.  The Hyundai Elantra, the Ford Focus, the Chevrolet Volt, the Chevrolet Cruze, the upcoming Honda Civic.  All of those are very fuel efficient.  Very good small cars.”  

Still, Peterson says  SUVs remain the leading segment in the auto sales market.

“The largest segment of vehicles still selling is Sport Utility Vehicle.  Now most of those are cross-over SUVs.  So they’re much more fuel efficient than the old gas hog SUVs that we had before.   If you think about sales, SUVs are king, followed by small cars, followed by mid-sized cars.”   

Peterson says the last time gas prices spiked over $4 a gallon, many drivers traded in gas guzzling SUV’s for smaller, more fuel efficient cars. But, he says many of those drivers expressed buyers’ remorse, after missing their larger, more powerful rides.

EPA Region 5

It’s been 8 months since a broken pipeline spewed more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil near Marshall.

Wintry weather reduced the size of the cleanup response. But now, the next phase of the cleanup is about to begin. 

Becky Haase is an Enbridge Energy spokeswoman. She says about 200 cleanup workers have spent the past few months digging up oil-soaked soil from contaminated wetlands. Now that’s its getting warmer, Haase says oil may once again become visible along the Kalamazoo River. 

“It’s definitely possible that some sheen will be visible to folks…especially those who live along the river." 

Enbridge will focus this Spring on removing oil still resting on the bottom of the Kalamazoo River. Haase  says work crews will begin cleaning oil soaked islands in the Kalamazoo River this month “and remove that soil and replace it with new, fresh soil. The restoration effort will follow that.”

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a case where a woman wants to sue the state for injuries she suffered while riding on a state-maintained off-road trail. The question before the Michigan Supreme Court is whether a forest trail is also a highway?

Beverly Duffy and some friends were riding All-Terrain Vehicles on the Little Manistee Trail. Duffy’s ATV struck some half buried boards in the trail, throwing her from the vehicle. She suffered spinal injuries and paralysis. She sued, claiming the State Department of Natural Resources failed to maintain the trail for all licensed vehicles, as required by state law.

The law applies to state maintained ‘highways.’ The state contends the off-road trail is not a ‘highway’ as defined by state law.   

The trial judge sided with Duffy, but the state Appeals Court ruled in the state’s favor.

Race & Happiness

Mar 7, 2011
(flickr kk+)

A new Michigan State University study finds Black Americans who identify strongly with their racial identity tend to be happier. MSU researchers talked with African-Americans living in Michigan.  

Researcher Stevie Yap says they found people who said that ‘being black’ was an important part of their life and gave them a sense of ‘belongingness” to a wider community.  

"We did also find the sense of belongingness…the degree to which that is a mechanism…in racial identity to happiness…that is especially the case for women.”

The MSU study appears in the current issue of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

Ingham Regional Medical Center in Lansing will start laying off about 7 percent of it’s workforce this week.

Interim hospital CEO Patrick Salow says a 10 percent decline in patient numbers over the past year is forcing the staffing cuts. He says the layoffs will affect the hospital’s nursing staff, but the layoffs will also affect other divisions like the finance department.

“If we’ve got fewer patients, so there’s fewer bills to send out, do we need as many people to process bills for example."

The total layoff will be between 100 and 150 hospital employees.

(Flickr-Chazz Layne)

Mexican truck drivers may soon start turning up on Michigan roads. U.S. truck drivers are not happy about it.

The Obama administration announced a deal Thursday that will allow Mexican truck drivers to ply their trade on US roads. The deal ended a nearly 20 year ban. Under the deal, Mexican drivers and their trucks will have to meet US safety and other standards.

Union and independent truck drivers don’t like the deal. Leo Wilkins is an independent trucker from the Saginaw area. He says allowing Mexican truckers on US roads will cost American jobs.

 “It would be a benefit to them, but it’s not helping our labor force any.  It’s just destroying more of our labor force that’s already been destroyed."

The US Chamber of Commerce applauds lifting the ban on Mexican truckers. Mexico imposed high tariffs on more than 2 billion dollars worth of US products annually, in retaliation for the ban, which Mexican officials claim violated the North American Free Trade Agreement.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

‘Food deserts’ are a growing problem in Michigan cities. Two Michigan State University professors believe they have an idea that might help.

'Food deserts’ are created when local supermarkets close and there’s no place where people can walk to buy fruits, vegetables and other fresh food.

MSU professors Phil Howard and Kirk Goldsberry wanted to see how bad the problem is in Lansing. Goldsberry says he was surprised that large sections of the capitol city are ‘food deserts’. He says, in many cases, if you want fresh food, you must drive to Lansing’s suburbs.  

“The suburbanization of groceries has placed our best markets in commercially zoned in non-residential, automobile oriented areas.  Essentially geographically separating our best produce sections from our most densely populated neighborhoods.”  

The MSU professors have created an interactive map showing Lansing’s ‘urban food deserts’. They hope to create similar ‘food desert’ maps for Flint, Grand Rapids and other US cities.

Goldsberry says communities need to encourage more urban gardens and farmers markets to fill the gap in urban ‘food deserts’.

Kate.Gardner / Flickr

Update 2:50 p.m.:

Members of Congress from the Great Lakes region say it’s taking too long to come up with an action plan to stop the spread of Asian Carp. They are now calling for work on that plan to speed up. 

Asian Carp have spent the past few decades slowly spreading throughout the Mississippi River watershed.   The invasive carp have destroyed indigenous fish populations from Missouri to Illinois.   One was caught last year just a few miles downstream from Lake Michigan. 

The US Army Corps of Engineers wants to spend the next five years developing a plan to keep the carp out of the Great Lakes.   Not fast enough for Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.

 “We have to have a sense of urgency about it.  The Army Corps is studying this issue now, but it’s going to take them several years…we don’t have several years.  We need to get this done as quickly as possible.”  

Recently, Illinois politicians have fought efforts to close canals linking Lake Michigan to carp infested waters near Chicago.   But Illinois Senator Dick Durbin supports expediting a carp action plan, making its passage more probable.   Though Durbin’s involvement also hints closing canals will not be part of the plan.  

 Stabenow  says she doesn’t know how much it will cost to ‘separate’ the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed.    But she says Asian Carp could cost the economy of the Great Lakes billions of dollars if they are not stopped.   

11:01 a.m.:

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and Michigan Republican Congressman Dave Camp plan to introduce legislation to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through Chicago-area waterways, the Associated Press reports. Stabenow and Camp will hold a news conference today to discuss their plans. The AP reports:

Stabenow and Camp previously sponsored bills that would have forced closure of shipping locks near Chicago that could provide access to Lake Michigan for the invasive carp. Those measures failed.

The House recently rejected Camp's effort to attach a lock closure amendment to a federal spending bill.

Michigan and four other states are suing in federal court to close the locks. Chicago business interests say doing so would damage their local economy and probably wouldn't do much to stop the carp anyway.

flickr

The city of Detroit could face an economic hit this fall if the National Football League and its players don’t agree on a new contract.  How big an impact is not clear.  

The current contract between NFL owners and the players association expires at midnight.   Without a deal, Ford Field in Detroit will sit empty during the Lions scheduled pre-season and regular season home games this fall.

A study commissioned by the players association says $20 million is spent on average in NFL cities during regular season home games.  In some cities, much more is spent.  The Christian Science Monitor reports small businesses may pay a big price. 

Jesse David is a senior vice president with Edgeworth Economics, the company that did the study.  David admits people will probably spend money on some form of entertainment, whether or not they go to a game, but they may not spend it in Detroit.  

“It may be that someone else, somewhere else sees their income go up…but there’s still going to be an effect on a group of people.”

Even if they miss tonight’s deadline, NFL owners and players still have several months before games will have to be canceled or rescheduled.

Investigators are picking through what’s left after a fire heavily damaged an auto parts plant in Howell on Wednesday.  Dozens of firefighters from six different Livingston County communities joined forces to battle the blaze at the Magna Atreum auto parts plant.  

About 450 people work at the plant which produces dashboards, consoles and other parts for General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan and Mazda.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

The full extent of the damage and how long it will take get to the facility back up and running is also still being reviewed.  No one was injured in Wednesday’s fire.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s law barring protesters from funerals might be vulnerable after today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation’s highest court ruled in favor of an anti-gay group that pickets at military funerals.

Michigan, like dozens of other states, passed a law in 2006 to prevent the protests from disrupting funerals here.

At the time, the states were trying to prevent a fundamentalist Christian Church from Kansas from picketing military funerals.

The pickets were not opposing the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, but against gay rights.

The ACLU challenged Michigan’s law after a couple attending a family friend’s funeral was arrested for having anti-George W. Bush signs on their car.

Dan Korobkin, with the ACLU, says the new court ruling may be enough to tip the balance in their challenge to Michigan’s law:

“Laws that are created to stifle unpopular speech, which is what the law in Michigan was created to do, always end up backfiring and punishing innocent people.”

Korobkin says they hope to hear soon from the federal judge considering their challenge to the state law, "the federal judge who is overseeing that case has already indicated that it is probably unconstitutional, but he hasn’t taken the final step of striking it down," said Korobkin.

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.

Rising gasoline prices threaten to take some of the optimism out of a rosy new forecast for retail sales in Michigan.  A recent survey of Michigan retailers finds 76% expect to see their sales improve this spring. 

  Good holiday sales are lifting many business owners expectations for the year ahead. 

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retail Association. Scott says the survey was taken before gasoline prices spiked this week.   He says high gas prices could be a problem for retailers.

 “But the bigger concern, more than just their own delivery trucks, is generally the effect on consumers.  And of course, every dollar a consumer puts in his or her gas tank is a dollar that can’t be spent at the store.”

Scott says a few years ago when gas prices reached four dollars a gallon, retail sales dried up.  But he says pent up consumer demand may keep the customers coming, even with high gas prices.

Pages