Developer Bill Hults at the Packard Plant in July. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Detroit—A Chicago-area developer has the inside track on buying the dilapidated Packard Plant, delivering a $100,000 nonrefundable deposit at the last minute Friday on the tax-foreclosed property.
The payment caps a turbulent week that saw the winning bidder on the iconic ruin disqualified after failing to come through on her $6 million bid. But the drama may not be over: Bill Hults must pay the remaining $1,900,300 by Monday.
“Monday, we need to see the money,” said Wayne County Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski. “(The deposit) is a lot to lose, but based on his constant delays it is very frustrating.”
The down payment came later than a 3 p.m. deadline, but treasury officials extended it to keep alive Hults’ plan converting the crumbling auto factory on East Grand and Mount Elliott into a commercial, housing and entertainment complex
Hults had negotiated for months to buy the property but missed deadlines to pay its back taxes, $1 million, before September. That allowed the property to go to auction, which was won by a Texas doctor, Jill Van Horn, who bid $6 million. Her bid was dismissed Wednesday when she missed a deposit deadline, so the treasurer turned to Hults, who came in second at the auction.
Szymanski said Hults showed officials closing documents from the sale of property that would entitle him to enough money to cover the $1.9 million by Monday. If he doesn’t, officials are expected to offer the Packard to the third-place bidder, Fernando Palazuelo, a developer from Peru whose last bid was $2,002,000.
Szymanski has said the price for Palazuelo would roll back to about $400,000 because that was the last competitive bid before a bidding war emerged between Palazuelo, Hults and Van Horn.
Like Hults, Palazuelo wants to save much of the Packard and develop it into a multi-use facility. Palazuelo has bought, rehabilitated and leased 1.5 million square feet of dilapidated buildings in downtown Lima, Peru, during the past six years.
“Preservation is always an extraordinary investment for the future,” Palazuelo wrote in an email Friday.