Illinois Developer Plans To Buy Detroit’s Dilapidated Packard Plant

Midwest
Friday, July 19, 2013
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Preliminary sketch of a rehabbed Packard Plant. (Albert Kahn Associates)

Preliminary sketch of a rehabbed Packard Plant. (Albert Kahn Associates)

Detroit’s Packard Automotive Plant is one of Albert Kahn’s most well-known designs. But while this 3.5 million-square-foot behemoth remains iconic, it’s not exactly enduring.

Collapsed roofs, asbestos, and an ocean of debris (apparently navigable) are among the foreclosed property’s less attractive qualities. But Bill Hults thinks a $350 million renovation project could revive the plant, which closed in 1956, perhaps positioning it at the center of a metro-area rebound.

The Illinois developer has plans to buy the massive, dilapidated factory for $974,000 in unpaid taxes. But as Bill Bradley writes for Next City, Hults’ own unpaid debts ($50,000 according to Hults) may compound the challenges inherent in rehabbing a building so far gone.

On the bright side, the building does have strong bones of reinforced concrete. And Albert Kahn Associates could help restore their namesake’s historic design.

Funding for the project is unclear. Some projects in Detroit have united disparate donors, developers, and aggressive government incentives to green light otherwise unlikely projects.

But if this proves to be a turning point for the Packard Plant, long one of Detroit’s living examples of the city’s precipitous rise and fall, its timing may prove poignant; on Thursday Detroit became the largest city in the country to file for bankruptcy.

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