Going, going, not gone! No takers in Packard auction

PackardTurns out, no one wants to fork over nearly $1 million for a sprawling wasteland of twisted metal, broken glass and collapsing concrete floors and ceilings on Detroit’s east side.

By this morning’s 8:30 deadline, no one placed the minimum $966,000 bid to buy the Packard Plant at the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. That gives the city two choices – remove the 3.5 million-square-foot property from the second round of auctions or allow it to be sold for as low as $21,000 in October. That amounts to $500 for each of the plant’s 42 parcels.

But to remove property from the auction, the city would have to pay $966,000, which is very unlikely.

Hopes were high that an Illinois developer was going to purchase the derelict property with long-term plans to transform it into a hub for housing, entertainment and businesses but he never made the nearly $1 million payment.

City officials didn’t return calls this morning about what they plan to do with the property, which was on fire nearly every day last week.

Finding a buyer won’t be easy – even at $21,000.

packard_9690_FBAny hope of reviving or demolishing Detroit’s symbol of industrial decline will take a big investment from a committed developer. County officials privately expressed concerns about speculators and others who would sit on the property, which could cost as much as $15 million to demolish in an area riddled with poverty and crime.

The Packard was the largest manufacturing plant in the world when it opened at the turn of the 20th century. But steep industrial declines beginning in the 1950s hit the Motor City hard, forcing the closure of many plants, including the Packard.

More than a half century later, scrappers are tearing apart the building in search of metal. Discarded boats, cars and mountains of trash are strewn throughout the plant.

The former owner, Dominic Cristini, stopped paying property taxes years ago and abandoned plans to demolish the plant.

Steve Neavling

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.