Old auto plant should be demolished, judge rules

Sizable home of former Packard plant in Detroit has been vacant for more than two decades.

packard plant detroit
The former Packard Motor Car Co. campus in Detroit, as it appeared in May 2017.
Photo courtesy of Industrial Equipment News and Tanya Moutzalias/The Ann Arbor News via AP File/Ann Arbor News via AP.

A judge in Michigan has ordered the demolition of the more than 100-year-old Packard auto plant in Detroit, deeming it a public nuisance.

According to AP News, Wayne County, Michigan, Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan determined that the plant’s owner, Fernando Palazuelo, and his company, Arte Express Detroit, “must remove all rubbish and debris” from the remaining buildings on the property before arranging for their demolition.

According to the HistoricDetroit website, design and construction work on the Packard Motor Car Co. plant began in 1903 and the complex “eventually grew to 80 some buildings spread across 80 acres.”

The last Packard was built there in the mid-1950s. In subsequent years, attempts were made to revive the site as “the Motor City Industrial Park.” But by 1999, those efforts ceased, and subsequently vandals and metal thieves set in “literally ripping the place apart, turning it into 3.5 million square feet of rubble and ruin,” says the website.

Judge Sullivan has not seen sufficient progress from that sorry state, apparently, with his ruling declaring the remaining structures “a public nuisance which interfere with common rights enjoyed by the general public by significantly threatening the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

The judge wants to see a quick timeline, ordering demolition and abatement work to start within 42 days, according to AP News. After 90 days, if cleanup work is not completed, the city of Detroit is authorized to have it done at Palazuelo’s expense, according to the report.

The news article does not determine if there is any remaining salvage or metal recycling value on the property, instead pointing to “costs [that[ are expected to be in the millions of dollars.”

A city official quoted by AP News expresses agreement with Judge Sullivan’s ruling, saying the “dangerous and blighted portions of the Packard plant” had recently yielded nothing but unpaid tax and utility bills.

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