Detroit's former Packard plant could have new owner by year's end

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The owner of the former Packard plant could announce a new owner of the site by the end of the year, according to a real estate firm marketing the property.

The property, which consists of two 20-acre sites on Detroit's east side, has had a lot of interest in the past year, said Larry Emmons, senior managing director for real-estate firm Newmark’s Southfield office. The site is being marketed at an asking price of $5 million.

“They’ve all been developers that have users in tow that they did not disclose,” Emmons said.

Fernando Palazuelo, owner of the Packard Plant

It's been at least a year since Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo scrapped his initial plans for the site. 

Palazuelo, who said he was financing the project himself, bought the complex from Wayne County for $405,000 at a tax foreclosure auction eight years ago.

In 2017, Palazuelo broke ground on a plan to redevelop the Packard plant into a mixed-use site. The four-phase development plan was expected be a boon for the city, cost $350 million and take up to 15 years to complete. 

There has been clean up and tours of the site in the following years, but little development progress was made. The site suffered further disrepair when the pedestrian bridge over Grand Boulevard collapsed in early 2019. 

"I think the market shifted from a mixed use development, which is what he had in mind," Emmons said. "The market wasn't there or his vision. He has a large investment in Lima, Peru, and COVID made it difficult to balance time between both."

Signage for the revitalizing of the Packard plant, Oct. 8, 2014.

The discussions about selling the property to another developer began about 18 months ago, Emmons said. 

As of October 2020, the sites were made available built-to-suit, where a developer agrees to build space for a tenant to lease. At the time Emmons said his job marketing the property was not for the “redevelopment of existing buildings for multi-family units or multi-use."

The Packard plant site lost tax incentives after the Detroit City Council voted earlier this month to terminate a brownfield plan due to the lack of progress.

Earlier this year, the Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority staff recommended that the plan be terminated “on the basis that the projects had failed to occur with respect to the eligible property for at least two years following the date of the plan. …”

The City Council unanimously voted Oct 5. to terminate the brownfield plan.

According to the city, a new owner would be able to apply for brownfield plan for future development.

When the Packard plant ended production in 1956 dozens of smaller businesses worked out of part of the plant until the late ’90s. Then the city foreclosed on the property, and the facility began to be torn apart by scrappers and vandals.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN