• Jul 10, 2010
Detroit may be one step closer to wiping the old Packard automobile plant off the face of the map for good. For years, the structure has stood derelict as a symbol of the city's decay as lawmakers fought to figure out who exactly owns the property. Supposedly, the plant is currently owned by a company under the name of Biosource, Inc, and the only person on that company's books is Dominic Cristini. Cristini is currently serving a prison term in California on drug charges, leaving the local government to try to decide how best to go about cleaning up the site.

But things got a little clearer recently when Biosource sued Detroit's 555 Nonprofit Studio and Gallery. The name on the lawsuit wasn't Cristini's. Instead, one Romel Casab was behind the move. It had been assumed that Casab was tied to the Packard property in some, but officials had difficulty proving it. Evidently, the parties behind Biosource became upset when the 555 gallery removed artwork by famous UK graffiti artist Banksy from the property (you can see the art and its relocation here).

Now that there's a clearer target in Mr. Casab, it's possible that Detroit will be able to lean on him to either demolish the 3,500,000 square-foot facility or allow the city to take over the former Packard plant altogether. Casab, for his part, denies having any ownership of the property. That's somewhat predictable considering that if the city moves forward with its attempts to clear the property, Casab could be held accountable for the related costs.

[Sources: The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press | Image: Spencer Platt/Getty]


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  • 53 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The land has no value, the building has no value. It has negative value in fact. By law it would require environmental clean up and that is much more than the real estate value. Detroit is a wasteland. Even if the building was not there, the land still would be nearly worthless to anybody. Supply and demand determine value and there is lots of supply of land like that in Detroit, and no demand for any of it. So the value is $0.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The last car out of this building was in 1958. Sad end, and it's not over. There are still a few maniac collectors around. One neighbor has a '52 (my estimate) in his yard, and it isn't getting any fresher, nor is he. Many vehicle collectors do so because they had fond memories of driving, riding, or making sport in the back seat of their rides. When they retire or die, the families discover that that old sedan is just that: an old sedan that's now a liability. So, cousin Larry takes it and starts to restore it, only to find that because the car was so rare, so are parts, especially good ones. Rechroming trim is just the start. Even finding someone to rebuild the dried out transmission for less than the whole car would be worth if perfect, and a fancy one at that, is rare. Those guys are deader than the make in question. Inevitably, the thing rots in the yard, finally being dragged off for $20 scrap minus the $75 towing bill. I've seen it so many times at swap meets, where trailer queens sit by the fence all day, faded "Make Offer" signs propped in the window. Sad.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NOOOOO! Come on Detroit, there are tons of ideas you could use this once regal and majestic Packard plant for. Like a mall (Could be the next Mall of America) luxury apartments, maybe you could build tanks there, or military machines, firearm production, maybe a research center for various health problems, maybe one big giant school? or a HQ for some government or military base even? The possibility's are endless. Please don't tare it all down first. Yes I know it is in terrible shape, and many parts are falling down, and it has many many other problems, but I think if the City of Detroit can find a way to make this work, then it will bring hundreds if not thousands of jobs into the area. It could be a giant step toward becoming a better and heather city financially and economically wise.This could mean a road to becoming the envy of the US and even the world, but that is way way way down the road. This could be the start of a new century for the Great City of Detroit, Michigan!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Would be great to keep it but problem is that it may just cost to much to retrofit the entire building to get it up to code and structure.
        Though I do agree they should do something and not just let it grow weeds. Maybe a school or college? A UTI or Wyotech I think in Detroit would be great that or just a trade school/college.
        • 4 Years Ago
        " Like a mall"

        who would want to shop there? it's not in a "nice" part of Detroit.

        "luxury apartments,"

        who would want to live there? it's not in a "nice" part of Detroit.

        "maybe a research center for various health problems, maybe one big giant school? or a HQ for some government or military base even? The possibility's are endless. Please don't tare it all down first. Yes I know it is in terrible shape, and many parts are falling down"

        this building frequently has large fires which due to the hazards of reaching them, are typically left to burn out. The building is structurally unsound.

        "but I think if the City of Detroit can find a way to make this work, "

        how? with what money? the city's broke.

        "then it will bring hundreds if not thousands of jobs into the area. "

        you're on crack.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm guessing GM's old designers left it there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Packard was probably the best of the American car makers of it's time. The state of the old plant is kind of a symbol of modern day Detroit. Once the industrial heartbeat of the Western world, now a dilapidated shell.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not sure the analogy goes that far. Packard was a status symbol, no doubt, but its management missteps went back to the 1930s. Ateupwithmotor.com recently had a couple of stories about Packard and you should check it out. By the 1950s, Packard just didn't have the money to compete with the other Detroit companies, particularly Cadillac. That led to the illconceived merger with Studebaker.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If they tear it down, where will the syfy channel film all their lame-azz shows?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Post-apocalyptic Reptilian Alien Invasion (Starring Lou Diamond Phillips)
        • 4 Years Ago
        You mean like "UrbanDino vs. GhettoCroc"?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The once grand train station will be the back up plan for the Sci-Fi producers
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's unfortunate he is suing a gallery for that reason when they are preserving something that can be preserved for future generations, but at the same time the gallery changed the meaning of the piece by changing its location. Nevertheless, it was a noble choice.

      I am an art historian and an advocate for the arts, but in all reality the cost of restoring the buildings that are in complete ruins is astronomical and absurd to think it's a feasible choice. It's unfortunate, but people need to realize there are many buildings in detroit that preserve its historic nature, but other buildings are so far gone it will cost over 10x's more to restore them than to demolish and bring in modern architects to produce amazing architecture and most importantly new construction jobs in the area. Then those extra funds could be allocated to the surrounding communities to help the city in general.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder if Casab is related to my former boss Paul Casab? He was a greasy snake of a man. He did everything in his power to weasel his way out of paying for something. His business was pretty much in Detroit but he listed in another city with cheaper taxes.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How cool would it not to have a small shop sett up in the middle of the ruins that could start producing a limited number of 2014 models Packard Caribbeans. A modern day RR fighter! Give me some time expanding my business and we see what we can do:D
      • 4 Years Ago
      They used to have "enterprise zones" to entice developers and/or businesses
      to take abandoned property for zero or little dollars so it would be profitable for them to rehab the property in to something that would clean up the area and create jobs. If the plant can not be utilized for manufacturing, it might be
      able to be converted in to loft style apartment housing. This has sucessfully been done with other former plants.

      Industrial style loft apartments have been appealing places for ubanites to live. Usually when a loft apartment community springs up, the rest of the area will cleanup as well. "Presenting Motor City Lofts, the loft apartments for the automotive enthusiest"!
        Kaley Wu
        • 2 Years Ago
        A response two years later but nonetheless, it's the area that surrounds this plant that has helped doom it. It's a concentrated "War Zone" and no one who could live else where would live there.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This would be sensible if it weren't for one tiny little thing- Detroit has a surplus of housing. There are no shortage of abandoned homes and apartment buildings there. You create housing if there is a demand for it- given the abundance of abandoned housing in Detroit, it is obvious that there is negative demand.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Packard would be a nice name to resurrect. The post war (WWII) Packards were junk and that hastened the brand into the ground.
      • 4 Years Ago
      even in this condition its a sweet looking building. what would you gain knocking it down? a vacant lot? if im ever in detroit id like to check it out. looks interesting.
        • 4 Years Ago
        if it being there is that much of problem let it burn. wait you said they already do that. must not be tying them up that much, huh? which is it? oh wait, you got your troll face on. get a life.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ". what would you gain knocking it down?"

        for one, you wouldn't be tying up the Detroit Fire Department every week for whatever fire someone set in there.

        "if im ever in detroit id like to check it out. looks interesting."

        it would take a special kind of stupidity to actually *want* to go in there.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I would love to go do a bit of Urban Exploration with my camera in there as well. Unfortunately it is in Detroit. The odds of meeting up with someone who is out of it on crack are a bit too high.
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