Redevelopments to bring Packard Plant in Detroit back to life

DETROIT – Nearly 60 years since production stopped at the site, redevelopments are happening at the Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit.

Packard Plant owner Fernando Palazuelo has done similar redevelopment projects in Peru, and now he has a vision for the 42-acre property on the city’s lower east side. He wants to turn it into apartments, retail shops and art galleries.

“We have to approach this project like the military approaches a battle,” he said.

When Palazuelo bought the plant three and a half years ago for $405,000, people wondered if redevelopment would happen.

Work has started, and could continue for up to 15 years, depending on community support.

It originally took eight years to build the plant.

“It was distressing to see it ignored by the city and they've ignored it for years,” said former Packard Plant employee Charles “Skip” Gibson.

He can’t remember the dates, but he said he was probably one of the last salaried employees to leave the plant when it closed in 1956.

Gibson said he kept hoping the building would be torn down before it burned down. He has driven by the plant many times, wondering what the old building could become.

“I'm looking forward to Fernando doing a remarkable job,” Gibson said.

The building is in the main part of phase one and should be bustling within a year. The project could cost up to $350 million.

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