Thieves caused multiple fires to break out at the Packard Plant on Thursday as Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo made his final payment to Wayne County to buy the sprawling, lawless ruins.
Palazuelo made his final payment – $364,590 – to make good on his $405,000 bid. The money was placed in an escrow pending an environmental assessment that is expected to be wrapped up by Dec. 31.
Just as Palazuelo was making the historic purchase, metal scrappers who have been virtually ignored by police sparked multiple fires Friday while trying to steal pipes from tunnels underneath the Packard on Detroit’s east side. Firefighters said the thieves punctured a natural gas line, causing fires in several areas.
For the past few days, scrappers have been using loud, high-tech equipment to dig into about a foot of concrete and more than 3 inches of brick and other material. These are the same scrappers who have been tearing apart the Packard for years. Despite our numerous reports about the brazen thieves, they have never been stopped, placing the lives of nearby residents at risk.
The scrappers also are trying to remove the tall water tower, which could cause major damage and endanger the lives of nearby residents.
Once an environmental assessment is complete, the responsibility of securing the 40-acre network of buildings at the Packard falls on Palazuelo, who plans to create art galleries, condos, manufacturing space and even competitive go-kart racing track at a plant that has been predominately vacant since the 1950s.
Palazuelo was the third-highest bidder, but the only one to make good on the purchasing price.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.