Packard Plant rehab project breaks ground today

May 16, 2017 at 12:51 pm
click to enlarge The Packard Plant. - Lee DeVito
Lee DeVito
The Packard Plant.

Developers celebrated the official groundbreaking today for the ambitious, multi million-dollar rehabilitation of Detroit's former Packard Plant.

The sprawling, decaying 106-year-old Albert Kahn-designed former auto plant will undergo the first phase of redevelopment, starting with the site's 121,000-square-foot former office building. The construction is headed up by Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo, who bought the 3,500,000-square-foot site for $405,000 at a tax foreclosure auction three and a half years ago. According to Palazuelo's firm Arte Express, the entire rehab project could cost $350 million and take up to 15 years.

"I must say how impressed I am by Detroiters," Palazuelo said during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning. "I have renovated buildings all over the world, and I notice the strength and the determination of the people here in Detroit that is unlike any other. I want you to know I am committed to this project and the lower east side of Detroit."

"When I came here three and a half years ago, they told me, 'Fernando, this is going to be a big risk ... it's going to be impossible,'" he said. He evoked Napoleon. "His generals said, 'Napoleon, this is going to be impossible. Napoleon answered: 'Impossible n'est pas français' ... 'Impossible is not French.' So remembering Napoleon, we took the decision to move forward."

Eventually, the plan is for the site to host multifamily housing, manufacturing, artist spaces, and a coffee shop. After initially considering another location, German techno nightclub impresario Dimitri Hegemann has expressed interest in building a nightclub on the site as well, according to a Free Press report.

click to enlarge Groundbreaking for Arte Express' rehab of Detroit's Packard Plant. - Lee DeVito
Lee DeVito
Groundbreaking for Arte Express' rehab of Detroit's Packard Plant.