Packard’s abandoned factory saga took an unexpected turn when its owner, Peruvian businessman Fernando Palazuelo, missed a court-set deadline to file the required demolition permits in April 2022. The city could having to take charge of the demolition of the installation.
Palazuelo was ordered to begin demolishing the plant by mid-May by a Detroit court on March 31, 2022 and a local news channel Click Detroit reported that he had until April 21 to obtain the required permits. City officials confirmed to the outlet that that deadline had passed and it was unclear what would happen next. Detroit is considering demolishing the plant itself and billing Palazuelo for the work.
Largely vacant for decades, the Packard factory has the sad honor of being one of the largest industrial ruins in the world. Taking it apart is considerably more difficult and much more expensive than it looks: the Detroit Free Press estimates demolition will cost at least $10 million. As we previously reported, collecting this debt from Palazuelo may become a significant challenge for city officials.
It seems that somehow the days of the Packard plant are numbered – the bridge that crosses East Grand Boulevard collapsed in 2020 and the facility was declared a public nuisance by the judge of Wayne County Circuit, Brian Sullivan. Neighbors said Click Detroit that they fear children breaking into property and hurting themselves during the day, and that they fear for their own safety at night.
Palazuelo has not commented on the report, so we don’t know why he didn’t file the required permits on time. However, he has previously criticized city officials for failing to support his ambitious development plans, which included residential, commercial, industrial and artistic spaces. He even planned to build a go-kart track on the site. He also claims to have invested approximately $7 million in the property since it was purchased for $405,000 at the 2013 Wayne County tax auction; in particular, he set up security around the site and began asbestos removal.
What’s also unclear is what, if anything, will replace the Packard factory.
Most local residents view the Packard factory as 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 with wood from factory ruins.