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.