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Photos: Visiting the Packard Plant before the official groundbreaking

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It will be the largest renovation project in North America.

Photos by Michelle & Chris Gerard

On May 16, after years of planning, the largest renovation project in North America will officially break ground in Detroit. Arte Express will start Phase One of the Packard Plant redevelopment with the renovation of the Administration Building and the bridge over Grand Boulevard. Curbed visited the site in advance to chat about the future plans of the project.

Arte Express owns 2.7 million square feet of property in and around the Packard Plant. Developer Fernando Palazuelo acquired the Packard Plant in late 2013 for $405,000. With a project of this scope, the timeline is fairly lengthy. While Phase One is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018, future phases could take up to 10-15 years.

Abatement work has been underway in the Administration Building for the past few months. When completed the building will house offices for Arte Express, Silveri Architects, Detroit Training Center (an organization that trains Detroiters for jobs), Environmental Consulting & Technology Inc., Testing Engineers & Consultants, and Sterling Security. The first floor will have gallery and event space, plus a coffee shop and Esto’s Garage, a restaurant.

The bridge over East Grand Boulevard will also be renovated in this phase. They’ve wrapped the cornices on the bridge and secured the bridge to prevent falling debris.

Another part of the project that will be completed concurrently is the renovation of a nearby building that Arte Express recently acquired through the Wayne County Tax Auction.

We visited while abatement work was still in progress, but were able to capture a few shots of the area.

The first floor of the Administration Building.
Inside the Administration Building.
Inside the Administration Building.
A nearby building that will also be renovated.

Future phases will include the large building on the other side of the bridge on Grand Boulevard. Kari Smith, Director of Development for Arte Express, says they’re working on a development agreement with the city and would like this building to be used as a recreational facility.

Another building north of the administration building will be converted into live/work spaces for artists.

Future recreational facility.
A huge, abandoned warehouse and factory. All the windows are empty, there’s graffiti on the side of the brick building, and debris on the dirt nearby.
Future live/work spaces
Michelle Gerard

As for the rest of the property, Smith says they’re focused on bringing jobs to the area. This would include finding training or manufacturing companies to utilize the space.

The public is welcome to the groundbreaking, which will be May 16 at 11 a.m. Here are a few more photos from around the site of Phase One. Arte Express also has many before photos from inside the Administration Building, taken this past winter. It will be a truly remarkable project.

A nearby building
Looking through the Administration Building.
Between the Administration Building and future live/work spaces

Packard Automobile Plant Detroit

E Grand Blvd & Concord St. , Detroit, MI