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Detroit officials began demolition of long abandoned Packard Plant

Ken Lund / flickr

Detroit officials began their demolition of the Packard Plant Thursday, September 29. The demolition was ordered by a Wayne County judge earlier this year. It’s owner, Fernando Palazuelo, failed to follow that court order, and the city is now leading demolitions.

A crowd looked on as crews began dismantling one of the long-vacant buildings at the former auto plant.

The demolition was welcomed by Mike McConnell with the Display Group, a collective of companies headquartered at the Packard Plant. He says properties near his offices have been deteriorating.

“Resulting in falling debris on our roof and the inevitable reclaiming by nature," McConnell said.

Detroit City Councilmember Scott Benson says much of the Packard Plant has been an eyesore for decades.

“When the city gets engaged and we work with our federal as well as our state partners to find the financing and funding to bring these types of properties down, this is what a city does to improve the quality of life," Benson said.

The former auto factory closed in 1958. It’s ruin in the decades since became a widely documented symbol of the city’s decline, as well as a destination for underground techno raves, graffiti artists, and photography. Mayor Mike Duggan says the site’s proximity to GM’s electric vehicle plant makes it ripe for redevelopment.

“There’s going to be a demand for suppliers in this area and I want to get this site back to putting people to work as quickly as possible," Duggan said.

Duggan says it will cost more than 1.6 million dollars to demolish the site over the next two years. The demolition is being funded through the American Rescue Plan Act and state industrial site clearance money.

Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. Newman is an award-winning radio journalist and was named the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Broadcast Rising Star in 2017. His work has appeared on NPR, Marketplace and the Detroit Free Press among others. Newman joined WDET as a newsroom intern in 2014 and is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he first worked in radio at the student-run station WCBN.