Detroit's Packard plant slated for partial demolition, redevelopment

Much of the long-standing icon of urban decay is not long for this world

Detroit's iconic Packard plant is facing demolition after seven years of development limbo. Owners of the former manufacturing facility in east Detroit have pivoted from rehabilitation and revitalization to razing as attempts to attract tenants to portions of the property that have been selectively repaired have ultimately proved futile.

After purchasing the property at foreclosure auction in 2013, owner and potential developer Fernando Palazuelo attempted to market portions of the site as commercial and event spaces, even going so far as to selectively refurbish portions of the former administrative building. These attempts have failed to attract tenants or customers, prompting Palazuelo to change course. 

Instead, Palazuelo is planning to clean up the property and redevelop it as modern industrial space, the Detroit Free Press reports, preserving the site in spirit, if nothing else. Palazuelo says he would like to keep the old admin building intact if possible, likely more out of concern for the money he's already invested than any attempt to preserve the site's history.

That's likely not all Palazuelo is trying to preserve, as the site's upkeep has reportedly cost him a pretty penny. Per Crain's (subscription required), his company, Arte Express Detroit, owes more than $1 million in unpaid taxes and fees assessed on the property during his seven years of ownership. 

The property's deterioration has been a symbol of Detroit's decline. Originally completed in 1911, the plant operated until 1958. Its bridge over East Grand Boulevard, which once carried a portion of the assembly line between buildings, collapsed in early 2019. 

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