Scavengers have been tearing apart the sprawling Packard Plant for years, hauling off scrap metal for quick cash.
For a few, it was a full-time career.
But that appears to be coming to an end after Peru-based developer Fernando Palazuelo took over ownership for $405,000 last month and planted 24-hour security outside of the ruins. Security has spent the first few days of this week chasing out scrappers, who have proven to be persistent.
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Over the past two years, scrappers have grown bolder and more reckless, causing fires, tearing down buildings and trying to topple the enormous water tower. Health officials have expressed concerns for people who live nearby.
The plan to transform the Packard into a mixed-use site is long-term and costly – approximately $350 million over 10 to 15 years, according to Palazuelo. So nothing is certain.
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The Packard has been a lawless wasteland for decades, attracting vandals and robbers. On Christmas eve, urban explorers found a dead body.
But for now, the Packard is guarded for the first time in many years, offering hope of a new life for one of the world’s most iconic ruins.
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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.