PACKARD PLANT’S REHAB UNDERWAY
More than £400m to be invested in factory’s latest regeneration scheme
‘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.