The saga of the derelict Packard plant took an unexpected turn when its owner, Peruvian businessman Fernando Palazuelo, missed a court-ordered deadline to file required demolition permits in April 2022. The city might need to take the facility’s demolition into its own hands.
Palazuelo was ordered to begin tearing down the plant by the middle of May by a Detroit court on March 31, 2022, and local news channel Click on Detroit reported that he had until April 21 to obtain the required permits. City officials confirmed to the outlet that this deadline has been missed, and what happens next isn’t clear. Detroit is considering tearing down the plant itself and sending Palazuelo a bill for the work.
Largely vacant for decades, the Packard Plant holds the dubious honor of being one of the largest industrial ruins in the world. Tearing it down is considerably more difficult and a lot more expensive than it might sound: the Detroit Free Press estimates that the demolition will cost at least $10 million. As we previously reported, collecting that debt from Palazuelo may become a significant challenge for city officials.
It sounds like, one way or another, the Packard Plant’s days are numbered — the bridge stretching across East Grand Boulevard collapsed in 2020, and the facility was declared a public nuisance by Wayne County Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan. Local residents told Click on Detroit that they’re worried kids will break into the property and get hurt during the day, and that they fear for their own safety at night.
Palazuelo hasn’t commented on the report, so we don’t know why he didn’t file the required permits in time. However, he has previously criticized city officials for not supporting his ambitious development plans, which included residential, commercial, industrial and art spaces. He even planned to build a go-kart track on the site. He also claims to have invested approximately $7 million into the property since buying it for $405,000 at the 2013 Wayne County tax auction; he notably set up security around the site and began removing asbestos.
What’s also unclear is what — if anything — will replace the Packard Plant.
Most local residents consider the Packard Plant an eyesore, but some still see potential in the site. In 2021, Detroit-based Wallace Guitars teamed up with Jeep to release a guitar designed as a tribute to the Motor City and built using wood sourced from the factory’s ruins.