The largest renovation project in North America officially broke ground on Phase One of a multi-phase, long-term redevelopment on Detroit’s lower east side. The long-abandoned Packard Plant now officially starts construction on the renovation of the Administration Building and bridge across East Grand Boulevard.
The $16 million Phase One for the Administration Building should be completed by the end of 2018. Tenants are already lined up to move in. The building will be renovated for offices, with restaurant, gallery, and event space on the first floor.
The speakers at the ceremony today discussed the determination that went into getting to this point. This project has taken years to get to this point. Kari Smith, Director of Development for Arte Express, noted that this redevelopment will bring this neighborhood, "Amenities, safety and security, and further employment opportunities."
Detroit City Council member Mary Sheffield thanked residents who have stuck with the neighborhood. She also said that owner Fernando Palazuelo and Arte Express have engaged the community and appreciated their, "commitment to preserving the history and architecture of the building." She said that "this will turn vacant and blighted buildings into productive use, create jobs and opportunity, and strengthen the community." She said Arte Express will use sustainable design and green infrastructure in the redevelopment.
Palazuelo, who has renovated buildings around the world, stressed his commitment to the project and he is impressed with the strength and determination in Detroit. Palazuelo said that his redevelopment in Lima, Peru has created 15,000 jobs.
Future phases of the project include recreational use of the building across from the administration building on East Grand Boulevard and possible work/live spaces for the building next to the Administration Building. Palazuelo hinted at a future possible hotel on the site.