More than £400m to be in­vested in fac­tory’s lat­est re­gen­er­a­tion scheme

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Richard He­sel­tine ❚ www.packard­plant­pro­

‘This is a huge deal – it fol­lows sev­eral years of pre­de­vel­op­ment’ KARI SMITH, ARTE EX­PRESS

The for­mer Packard fac­tory is to be ren­o­vated as part of a grand scheme to rein­vig­o­rate Detroit’s for­mer in­dus­trial heart­land.

The open­ing cer­e­mony is cur­rently sched­uled for 16 May, hav­ing orig­i­nally been set for last Oc­to­ber. Ex­treme winter weather and de­lays in lo­cal gov­ern­men­tal ap­proval of a plan to off­set taxes against in­vest­ment over the next 12 years re­sulted in the hold-up, the cur­rent own­ers of the site hav­ing ac­quired it back in 2014.

The fac­tory was built in 1903, and the last Packard left the pro­duc­tion line in 1954. The first phase of the ren­o­va­tion, es­ti­mated to cost as much as $21m (£16m), will fo­cus on the for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tive build­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Kari Smith, di­rec­tor of de­vel­op­ment for Arte Ex­press Detroit, which is han­dling the ren­o­va­tion, the 121,000sq ft, four-storey struc­ture is ex­pected to be hab­it­able within the next two years. She says: ‘This is a huge deal. [It fol­lows] sev­eral years of pre­de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and a lot of wait­ing. It proves that Arte Ex­press is here to re­vi­talise the Packard plant.’

Span­ish de­vel­oper, Fer­nando Palazuela, bought the 40-acre site in De­cem­ber 2013 for $405,000 (£343,000) and, prior to gain­ing ap­proval for his re­gen­er­a­tion scheme, his team cleared away de­bris, de­mol­ished un­sta­ble parts of the plant and painted over graf­fiti. He has since hired Al­bert Kahn As­so­ciates – the ar­chi­tec­ture firm named af­ter the man who orig­i­nally de­signed the re­in­forced-con­crete fac­tory 103 years ago – to over­see cer­tain parts of the re­vamp.

Phases two to four will fo­cus on sep­a­rate build­ings on the sprawl­ing site, with Smith es­ti­mat­ing that the project may cost in ex­cess of $500m (£388m) to com­plete over the next 15 years. Pre­cise de­tails of the venue’s fu­ture role re­main sketchy, but it is ex­pected to in­clude apart­ments, restau­rants, an art gallery and a Packard mu­seum.

The Packard plant in detroit, Michi­gan, as it looks to­day.

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