Wayne County voids $500 sale of former AMC headquarters

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News
  • This year’s tax auction sold 9,500 tax-foreclosed properties for $58 million.
  • Last year’s sale raised $62 million.
  • Some 5,000 of the properties sold in Detroit were occupied

Wayne County on Monday canceled the $500 sale of the tax-foreclosed former American Motors Corp. headquarters after the winning auction bidder didn’t pay.

The 1.4-million square foot facility on Plymouth Road near Schaefer is among the 25,500 properties up for sale during the second round of the Wayne County tax foreclosure auction that began Tuesday.

Now, the sprawling and dilapidated complex on Plymouth near Schaefer in Detroit could be transferred to the city, said Eric Sabree, the county’s deputy treasurer.

“We will discuss with them what’s going on,” Sabree said. “The site is going to need some clean up.”

Nicholas Casab, 25, of Commerce Township was the sole bidder for the property in the auction that ended last week, but the sale was voided when he didn’t pay the $500 bid price or its summer tax bill of $160,600 by Monday, Sabree said. The former headquarters also includes another large parcel on Mark Twain that sold for $500 and had a summer tax bill of $72,600. Casab didn’t pay those bills either.

Casab refused comment to The Detroit News on Monday, saying “you guys are wasting my time right now. I’m working.”

Sabree said the complex could go to the Detroit or Wayne County land banks, which would vet and negotiate with potential buyers. The 1.4 million square-foot facility was occupied by Chrysler Group as recently as 2009, but became a dumping ground in less than three years after the automaker’s bankruptcy.

Court records show Casab is the son of Romel Casab, 53, a longtime land speculator who once had an ownership interest in another ruin, the Packard Plant. In total, Nicholas Casab bid on 54 county properties and didn’t pay the $307,000 owed by Monday’s deadline, Sabree said. Casab will lose his $10,000 bid deposit. The county could offer some of those properties to the next highest bidder.

The county also is waiting to see if a former owner of the facility files a lawsuit over the property’s foreclosure. He maintains he was never notified, Sabree said.

The tax auction ended last week and sold close to 9,500 tax-foreclosed properties. It raised $58 million, compared to $62 million in 2014, Sabree said. This year, for the first time, bidders had to pay summer taxes as well as the bid, in an effort to deter land speculators.

An estimated 5,000 properties sold in Detroit were occupied, according to Loveland Technologies, a Detroit data company that studies the auction.