Detroit —  Developers of the Packard Plant project celebrated the progress of cleaning up the four-story administration building Saturday at a private party with family and friends. 

The first phase of the project broke ground in May 2017, which included revitalizing the administration building and a nearby building. The project is estimated to cost $23 million and developer Fernando Palazuelo is financing the entire project himself. 

Previously: Developer ‘committed to success’ of Packard Plant

Palazuelo touted the progress they have made in the last year having ripped up the floor, cleared asbestos and saved historical contents from the former auto plant administration building at 1580 East Grand Blvd. 

“We’ve made progress slow and steady,” said Palazuelo, 63. “Floors are completely cleared up and within the next few weeks we will begin working on the facade.” 

Palazuelo says he is bringing in experts from Peru to teach a local team on how to restore the facade as well as the large Packard Plant doors and sign. 

The site is expected to rise again as a mixed-use development with office and commercial space, restaurants and a gallery/event space. Palazuelo’s vision for the property will be completed by the end of next year, he said. 

Attendees were shocked to see original tile floors in the entry had been preserved and were excited about the future ahead. 

"This is a magnificent place and can be a great opportunity for work, play and art,” said Beth Gotthelf, 60, from Birmingham. “The other advantage is it’s not in midtown or downtown. It will bring the crowds to support an untouched area.”

The entire project, which has four phases across the property’s 45 acres, is expected to take up to 15 years.

While working to restore the administration building, developers at Arte Express are working in conjunction on the Packard Plant Brewery in a nearby building. The project was announced earlier this year and is expected to be completed at the same time. 

Palazuelo said the 20,000-square-foot brewery will have three levels, a semi-outdoor patio, a garage-opening style facade and is a shared project with Atwater Brewery. 

“It will look spectacular,” Palazuelo said. “They’re large buildings and we want to demonstrate to the community that it will be as successful as one of the buildings downtown.”

He said he’s even more proud the project is creating more jobs for local community members. 

“I’d say 95 percent of our employees live in the surrounding neighborhood and want to see this community thrive,” said Palazuelo. 

Officials said historians are heavily involved in preserving the building and the whole project is being captured by documentarians. 

Detroiters like Michael Griffle agreed the project was positive for the lower east side community. 

“We have to create anchors in neighborhoods outside the downtown area and we need more people to invest overall,” he said.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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