Detroit Begins Demolition on Hazardous Portions of Packard Plant

The city of Detroit is moving forward with demolition of a major portion of the Packard Plant, the largest remaining abandoned auto factory in the city.
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Demolition has begun on portions of the Packard Plant in Detroit that have been causing hazards for nearby residents and businesses. // Courtesy of the City of Detroit
Demolition has begun on portions of the Packard Plant in Detroit that have been causing hazards for nearby residents and businesses. // Courtesy of the city of Detroit

The city of Detroit is moving forward with demolition of a major portion of the Packard Plant, the largest remaining abandoned auto factory in the city.

“The deterioration of this building has been a problem for the Display Group and poses an immediate threat to safety, so we will be taking it down as quickly as possible,” says LaJuan Counts, Detroit demolition director. “Removing this portion of the plant will be a great relief to residents on this block, as well as to the neighboring business.”

In April, the city’s director of building safety declared part of the plant at 6199 Concord an immediate hazard and ordered an emergency demolition. The move came after the complaints of falling masonry from residents along Concord, as well as the Display Group, which is in a renovated portion of the former plant attached to this particular parcel. Since that time, the city has selected the contractor through the city’s competitive bidding process.

Until earlier this year, the property had been owned by Fernando Palazuelo-controlled Arte Express, which for nearly a decade had owned more than 1 million square feet of the sprawling plant. Palazuelo had accrued more than $1.5 million in unpaid taxes, water drainage costs, and blight tickets before losing most of his portions of the plant to Wayne County due to the unpaid taxes.

Pre-demolition work at the 315,000-square-foot portion at 6199 Concord began today, including the installation of a barrier to protect The Display Group from falling masonry.  This work will begin to safely remove the structure without causing further damage to the Display Group’s building. The contracted cost of the demolition is $1.7 million.

During his State of the City address on March 9, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said addressing the Packard Plant was a top priority for his administration. Duggan pointed out that the city has undertaken or announced plans to remove or renovate nearly all the city’s most infamous vacant buildings, including the former Michigan Central train station, Lee Plaza, Cadillac Stamping Plant, AMC Headquarters, and Fisher Body 21 – and the that the Packard Plant was next on the list.

“The Packard Plant has been our city’s most iconic ruin. It’s been a drain on this neighborhood and it’s time for it to go,” says Duggan. “As we identify funding, we will take down additional portions of the plant until it’s gone and use every legal option at our disposal to hold the previous owner accountable to the judge’s order that compelled him to demolish the plant at his own cost.”

While most of the plant has been privately owned and eventually will be demolished, the city also is moving forward with demolition of the final portion of the plant it owns that it does not plan to redevelop. Demolition of the southern wings of 1539 E. Grand Blvd. is expected to occur later this year.

Duggan stated in his address that he plans for the city to preserve the northernmost wing of the property that faces E. Grand Boulevard for redevelopment to retain a portion of the plant’s history in Detroit.

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