The last time a car was made at Detroit's infamously derelict Packard plant was in 1958. Though it's been used for a variety of purposes since, these days it stands empty, an icon of urban decay. But that doesn't mean nobody's trying to do anything about it. The county recently put it up for auction, the winning bid placed by a doctor from Texas who quickly emerged as a quack. Talks with the second highest bidder have apparently fallen through as well, so now officials are moving on to the third: Fernando Palazuelo.

The Peruvian developer has some interesting ideas for the 40-acre site, whose structures – many of which are still intact – he plans to renovate and turn into a mixed-use facility. Among the uses Palazuelo has in mind for the old Packard plant are residential, retail, commercial, (light) industrial, recreation and art. So... pretty much everything. But the most intriguing element of his development plans is to construct a high-end karting track on the site, something he and his two eldest sons, who were once high-ranked kart racers, would enjoy as much as we would.

Palazuelo also wants to attract parts suppliers from the automotive industry to set up onsite, and could offer them free rent for several years in order to sweeten the deal. He intends to locate the leasing office in the iconic brick bridge that connects the two main buildings across East Grand Boulevard, and also plans to build himself an apartment there so he can live onsite as well. But all this is assuming he makes good on his modest $405,000 bid (of which he has so far put down 10 percent) and raises many times more that amount to get the project out of the rubble and off the ground.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      the_duke
      • 1 Year Ago
      FYI, if your source for the Packard Plant closing is Wikipedia, note that Wikipedia is wrong on this one, the last year for a car to move down the Packard Plant was 1956. The last two years (1957 and 1958) Packards were just re-badged Studebakers and made in South Bend.
      Thom Taylor
      • 1 Year Ago
      Actually '54 was the last year of use. They moved '55-56 manufacturing to an ex-Chrysler facility on Conner Rd., then '57-58 for the Packardbakers in South Bend. There was some engineering and styling development going on at East Grand thru '56.
        cadetgray
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Thom Taylor
        The Conner Ave plant was actually owned by Briggs Manufacturing and was the location of Packard body assembly. Chrysler bought Briggs in 1953 which immediately caused a crisis on East Grand Blvd, since all the stamping dies and presses were at Conner. Chrysler and Packard worked out a deal for Packard to lease the Conner facility. Since Conner was a "then modern" single story plant, it was perceived as more efficient than Packards sprawling E. Grand factory. So, all assembly was moved to Conner, making for a very cramped facility. Where is might have been a good body plant, it was way to small to do the complete assembly operations for two complete lines on two wheelbases...the senior Packards and the middle tier Clippers. To make matters worse, the 1955s were new designs using a novel torsion bar suspension and Packard's first OHV V-8. The quality suffered ultimately hurting the company's reputation. At one point the even considered moving subassembly work back to the old plant, but by then it was too expensive and too late. Had Packard never stopped stamping and building their own bodies they would have likely had a 1955 launch on time and of high quality.
        Roger
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Thom Taylor
        I'll bet there's been some commercial activity going on there for quite some time, but I doubt any of it's been legal.
        dukeisduke
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Thom Taylor
        Correct. The East Grand plant was way too large for their production volume, which is why they moved to Conner Rd.
      whofan
      • 1 Year Ago
      You Tube has some interesting videos of the Packard plant. The place is a dump. Hats off to anyone who wants to renovate it. It`s been tried before.
      tomcathmi
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cant wait to take my grandson on the Go kart track. And sign me up for maybe a little garage space for my race team
      WHO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Detroit- Bulldoze it, and turn it into a marijuana field. Cash Cow so you can pay for the City's huge DEBT
      Mercer
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sounds like a good idea until you get to the point of actually living near a race track. Kart engines will simply drive everyone insane when you are not driving, but living and working nearby.
        Bob Joe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mercer
        I don't think any body "works" nearby and he could make it an indoor track. I hope he does it because in metro Detroit, we have no karting facility.
          cantera.developments
          @Bob Joe
          @ John - I wish people wouldn't comment on here who don't know what they are talking about. There is an electric indoor karting track 10 miles from the Packard site in Novi, MI. 1. Quiet 2. No ventilation required 3. No sound amplification. Why do people post on here who know nothing about the subject and just go by what they perceive, or third,fourth party information. Must be a a FOX News devotee.
          JohnTaurus
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bob Joe
          @cantra.developments. I wish people who have no facts whatsoever would refrain from commenting. There has been no discussion of weather or not the go carts would be gas or electric. Both exist, and both are used today. The guy's point is a valid one, and so is mine. Go back to MSNBC.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mercer
        [blocked]
        jj360
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mercer
        Arn't kart engines all electric now?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jj360
          [blocked]
          Domenick
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jj360
          There are so pretty awesome electric karts out there and they are a great choice – especially for an indoor track – but there are still lots and lots of gas-powered machines out there.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jj360
          [blocked]
      Jonathan Wayne
      • 1 Year Ago
      Pipe dream #54697832
      Teleny411
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love to see creative use of historic structures. Packard was once a symbol of American strength, so i hope this will work.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Jm
      • 1 Year Ago
      BADASS
      gtv4rudy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Restore the historic building and make it a Packard museum
      David MacGillis
      • 1 Year Ago
      This guy has obviously never been to Detroit. A go kart track which is quite literally blocks from anyone at all and tens of miles from anyone with any interest in go karts except for what they can get for them in scrap.
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