Wayne County plans to sell Packard Plant

Aug 22, 2013

Wayne County officials hope to close a deal to sell Detroit's historic Packard Plant next week. County officials say they've been in talks for over a year with Chicago-area developer Bill Hults to buy the property.

Detroit's historic Packard Plant hasn't been in use regularly since the 1950s.
Credit Julia Field / Michigan Radio

Hults wants to turn it into a shopping complex with retail, residential and office space.

David Szymanski is with the Wayne County Treasurer's office. He says the county wants to close on the property as soon as possible, even if the deal with Hults falls through.

"The new owner must either demolish the property or they must secure and maintain the property," he said. "It's been an eyesore on [Detroit's] east side for long enough. We're very hopeful that we can find someone who's going to treat this property correctly and that it will no longer be a blight on the community."

But Robin Boyle, chair of the Urban Studies and Planning department at Wayne State University, says the building is beyond restoration.

"The public sector has failed, in my opinion, to deal with what has become a dreadful iconic image of a failed place," he said.  "In my opinion, this building is well beyond any form of savior, and should in fact be demolished."

If the county can't sell the property, it will go to public auction next month. Hults is expected to pay roughly $1 million in unpaid taxes for the plant.

-Sarah Kerson, Michigan Radio Newsroom