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The Packard Plant redevelopment could see construction starting this year

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We’ll believe it when we see it

Michelle & Chris Gerard

Could the impossible happen? With the help of City Council and some tax breaks, yes.

The Detroit Free Press recently published a profile on the work planned for the Packard Plant. Kari Smith, director of development for Arte Express Detroit, which is owned by Packard Plant owner Fernando Palazuelo, explained the phases of development for the sprawling ruin.

But first, they need approval from city council for a tax freeze. They're looking for a 12-year freeze on current property tax levels. If granted, they could start redevelopment this fall.

City Council will reconvene next month to consider.

Phase One would

"involve restoration of the four-story, 120,480-square-foot administration building on the plant’s north side that was the automaker’s headquarters office. This once-ornate building has been heavily damaged and vandalized of all its original marble. Restoration will cost $11 million to $12 million, Smith said, and could be mostly finished by late 2017 if work can start this September, when they anticipate City Council would take up the tax-freeze request.

The phase’s financing is already secure and largely comprises private equity from Arte Express Detroit’s parent company in Peru, she said."

Phase Two would be a recreational complex across the street from the admin building. Except that land is currently owned by the city and wasn’t included in the purchase from the county tax auction.

Phase Three would be a rehab of a five-story building next to the admin building that would have lofts, art studio space, and perhaps a restaurant.

Phase Four is a big one. This is where Detroit gets the German techno club. Also in this seven-story building would be a hostel, spa, music venue, restaurant, etc (add your own ideas here).

This would be the midway point for the redevelopment. Oh my.

Next steps? Tax freeze and massive funding needed for this gargantuan project. The Free Press says they’d need $400-$500 million for this dream, and the funding hasn’t gone according to plan yet.

We’ll believe it when we see it.

Smith tells Curbed, "Arte Express Detroit has already invested more than $3 million in private equity dollars toward safety, security and clean up of the area thus far. As soon as we are given the go ahead from City Council on the OPRA establishment, we will embark on the renovation of Phase 1, which has a $11-12 million price tag."

Palazuelo takes a selfie outside the Packard Plant, May 2015
Michelle & Chris Gerard

Packard Automobile Plant Detroit

E Grand Blvd & Concord St. , Detroit, MI