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Associations Now

Destination: Detroit

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, November 2012 Meetings

By: Samantha Whitehorne

Summary: The Great Lakes State's largest city mixes the old with the new.

A Chrysler commercial that debuted in 2011 featuring rapper and Detroit native Eminem got viewers to rethink "The D." Here's what the Motor City has going on now:

$300 million Cobo Center renovation. The overhaul, scheduled for completion by December 2014, will update the look of the convention center and reconfigure meeting space. Significant changes include rebuilding center as a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, installing a three-story atrium to link the exhibit hall with meeting space that overlooks the Detroit River, and adding a digital billboard to the building's east side. Exterior walls will be replaced with glass to showcase the center's riverside location.

Motown Fast Facts

Recent and future association meetings: Mid-America College Art Association Conference, National Association for Temple Administration Annual Conference, Michigan Association of Public School Academies' Charter School Conference

Hotel rooms: 40,000

Convention Center Exhibit Space: 700,000 square feet

Time from airport to downtown: 30 minutes

What else? The city's Marriott at the Renaissance Center is the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the western hemisphere and features the highest hotel restaurant in the western hemisphere, Coach Insignia.

Event spaces with history. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located a mile from downtown, has eight meeting rooms, a 317-seat state-of-the-art theater, and a rotunda that holds 500. The entire museum can be rented out to accommodate up to 2,500 guests. Other venues with a historical element include Second Baptist Church, which served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Neighborhood resurgence. After Tigers Stadium closed in 1999, many feared the worst for Corktown, Detroit's oldest neighborhood. But now the area offers a mix of restaurants, bars, and music venues. Sports fans shouldn't miss Nemo's, a bar dedicated to Detroit's sports history, and those looking for live music should check out popular dive bar Lager House. Also on the not-to-miss list: Slows Bar B Q.

Samantha Whitehorne is deputy editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email: swhitehorne@asaecenter.org

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