Open Menu
Open Menu

First phase of Packard plant renovation scheduled to start this month

Published in

Photo courtesy PackardPlantProject on Instagram.

Three years after a real estate developer bought the remains of Detroit’s Packard plant with grand ambitions – and nearly 63 years after Packard vacated the building – the renovation of the plant has been slated to begin later this month.

Originally scheduled for October, the groundbreaking ceremony for the plant renovation’s first phase got pushed back to this month due to both winter weather and delays in the city council’s approval of a plan to freeze city taxes on the property at current levels for the next 12 years. That approval came in November, ahead of the approval of a $5.4 million Brownfield cleanup plan.

The first phase of the renovation, most recently estimated to cost as much as $21 million, will focus on the former administrative building, a nearly 121,000-square-foot four-story structure facing East Grand Boulevard. As Kari Smith, director of development for Arte Express Detroit, the company heading the renovation, told the Detroit Free Press over the weekend, half a dozen tenants are expected to move in once the 18-to-24-month first phase wraps up.

“This is a huge deal,” Smith said. “It marks the beginning of several years of predevelopment activities and a lot of waiting and proving that Arte Express is here to revitalize the Packard Plant.”

While the groundbreaking ceremony signals the official start of redevelopment, Arte Express – headed by Spanish developer Fernando Palazuela, who bought the 40-acre property for $405,000 in December 2013 – has already cleared away much of the debris in and around the plant, demolished unstable portions of the plant, and painted over some graffiti.

Arte Express has also hired Albert Kahn Associates, the architecture firm named for the man who originally designed the reinforced-concrete plant in 1903, to oversee the restoration of certain aspects of the plant.

Phases two through four will then focus on separate buildings on the Packard factory campus. In total, Smith and Palazuelo have estimated the project to last as long as 15 years and cost as much as $500 million, financed through a mixture of private financing, tax breaks, grants, and other incentives. The site could eventually include a Packard museum as well as art galleries, a dance club, apartments, and restaurants.

While the factory had a variety of paying tenants since Packard departed for another factory in Detroit, the last of those tenants left in 2010.

The groundbreaking will take place May 16.