The Packard plant will be completely demolished by the end of the year as the city seeks to build a new auto plant: Dugan

Detroit – The Packard plant, one of Detroit's biggest blight icons, will be completely demolished by the end of the year and city officials hope to build a new auto-related plant on the site, Mayor Mike Duggan said during a Monday news conference.

The city on Monday afternoon marked the start of the third phase of demolition at the massive, decaying plant that used to house a luxury automaker for nearly 70 years, touting “promises kept.” The city owns 42 acres of the site after Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo failed to comply with a 2022 court order to demolish the deteriorating industrial site and missed other deadlines.

The city's mayor said that the city will rehabilitate the site to establish a new car factory within the next two years. In the next two months, Detroit's economic department will open bids for land development plans, Duggan said, but hopes to land a new auto supplier.

“This project is huge for the city's mission of (eliminating) blight,” said LaJuan Counts, director of Detroit's Department of Construction and Demolition. “It symbolizes Detroit's resilience and commitment to revitalization. As we look to a new era for this location, we honor the history of the old Packard plant while embracing the future potential of our city.”

Detroit-based contractor Adamo Group has begun demolition at 5409 Concord St., which is about 200,000 square feet, in the south section of the plant. This portion of the deconstruction work is expected to take five months and cost $1.2 million to complete.

Three more parts of the plant will need to come down, Counts said. Finally, about $26 million in pandemic relief dollars under the American Rescue Plan Act will be used to demolish the plant.

The Packard plant spanned 3.5 million square feet on Detroit's east side and was last active in 1956. Dozens of small companies operated in part of the plant until the late 1990s.

“Sixty-eight years ago, Packard Motors retired this plant, and for 68 years, the ruins of this building have been a drag on Detroit’s recovery,” Duggan said. “Thanks to Joe Biden and the bailout, Detroit has resources we never had before, and they will all be gone in 2024.”

On the other side of Grand Boulevard, environmental abatement has already begun, and a $12 million demolition will take place later this year.

The city has been working to demolish the Packard plant for years. Emergency demolition of a portion of the plant at 6199 Concord began in September 2022. In December 2022, demolition began on the next major section of Packard at the south end of 1539 E. Grand Boulevard. The northern portion of 1539 E. Grand Boulevard has been secured for redevelopment to honor the mill's history, city officials said.

The Packard lot at 1539 E. Grand Boulevard was the last remaining city-owned portion of the factory until 2022 when an additional 33 lots formerly owned by Palazuelo's Art Express were transferred to city ownership. The vacant property went into tax foreclosure due to $1.5 million in unpaid taxes, drainage costs and blight tickets.

After small businesses abandoned part of the plant in the late 1990s, the city foreclosed on the property and the facility began being torn apart by vandals and vandals.

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Palazuelo paid $405,000 for the site at a Wayne County tax foreclosure auction in 2013. He tried to find investors to back a $350 million mixed-use project with industrial, office, retail and cultural elements, but was unsuccessful. In 2021, the city sued Palazuelo and Arte Express to have the abandoned factory declared a public nuisance and demolished.

“But that's not enough to ruin things,” Duggan said Monday. “Our economic department will put forward proposals in the next two months for a new vehicle supplier for this site.”

The Packard site is located just yards from GM's GM plant. Duggan pointed to the redevelopment of the Cadillac Stamping on Conner and the old AMC headquarters in Plymouth as examples of what could emerge.

“We will transform this from an abandoned building into a vibrant employment center over the next two years,” Duggan said. “The only part we're preserving is on Grand Boulevard because that factory represents such a big part of Detroit's history. … There will be a small section of the factory on each side of Grand Boulevard that will be incorporated into any developer's proposal so we can recognize the history at the same time.” “The time when we build the future.”

The city's mayor said that so far no one has expressed interest in the site.

“There is a lot of demand at this location for both the Jeep plants and the GM Zero plant,” Duggan said. “This is a prime location.” “We will begin receiving competitive bids this year…and we hope to award this award closer to the end of the fence.”

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Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield said she remembers nine years ago when there was a proposal for the site.

“Unfortunately, it didn't work out,” Sheffield said. “But we didn't give up, and I look forward to a future for this site.” “We are committed to eliminating defects and creating productive spaces.”

The site is located in the city's Gratiot Town Kettering area, and is made up of seven neighborhoods that are excited to see the development, said Joshua Roberson, District 5 ward manager.

“We have hope,” said Valeria Berry, a community member invited by the city to speak. “I hope I can see a community garden, a children’s playground and a community building that will help bring us together again.”

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The tenth: @SarahRahal_

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