Detroit is losing group business due to lacking hotel rooms. That is about to change as a 600 to 800-room hotel connected to Huntington Place is in the works.
Detroit’s convention center, Huntington Place, is being renovated, and a new connecting hotel is being added. With 723,000 square feet of exhibit space, Huntington Place features one of the largest contiguous exhibit floors in North America and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, the largest ballroom in Michigan.
The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA) board agreed to redevelop the west side of Huntington Place to help attract more meetings, conventions, and events.
The agreement also paved the way for a hotel to be built by a private developer on the old Joe Lois Arena site.
As part of the renovation, the DRCFA and Huntington Place will work with the City of Detroit to reopen Second Street and connect it to the Detroit River. Currently, the west side of the convention center is inaccessible. Reconnecting Second Street will allow for a hotel to be built across the street, new parking options, better access for loading shows in and out, and create better pedestrian options to access Detroit’s International RiverWalk.
Final plans for the renovation of Huntington Place are still being finalized, but key elements include a second ballroom on the west side of the convention center. There is great demand for the current ballroom, and the convention center has to turn away business every year. The plans also include green space, a public plaza, and a new west-side entrance.
More Hotels Needed
New hotels are critical to attracting groups. Visit Detroit conducted a lost business analysis of the last five years that revealed the city lost 564,000 room nights because hotel capacity was lacking. That equated to more than $300 million lost in direct spending.
Currently, there are 2,500 rooms in some stage of development in the city, and Visit Detroit hopes to add up to 5,000 more by the decade’s end.
A private developer will build the new convention center hotel west of the center. It will have 600 to 800 rooms connected to the convention center. The goal is to break ground on the project this summer.
“Renovating the convention center and adding an upscale, large hotel is a clear and bold statement that Detroit means business when it comes to attracting meetings, convention centers, and events,” said Claude Molinari, president and CEO of Visit Detroit. “Our city and region are on the move, and visitors from around the world are eager to be a part of our community’s incredible story of resilience.”
Detroit is building the first electric vehicle charging road in the United States, and is the only UNESCO City of Design in the United States, points out Molinari. “And our music scene continues to move people. We are excited to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors for the NFL Draft in 2024 and to host the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2027. There has never been a better time to visit Detroit,” he added.
Huntington Place is a LEED gold-certified venue and has received numerous industry awards for excellence, including the 2020 USGBC Leadership Award for Building Performance, making it the only convention center in the history of the award to receive it.