DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A former auto plant — now a symbol of Detroit’s economic decline  — appears to have sold for just over $6 million at an online tax foreclosure auction to an out-of-state bidder.

An industrial site-turned sprawling eyesore, the 40-acre Packard Plant along East Grand Boulevard has stood vacant and decaying on Detroit’s east side for decades.

Friday, the property sold to Jill Van Horn of Ennis, Texas, for $6,380,000.

Reports say Van Horn is a physician from Texas and her husband has roots in metro Detroit.


Dave Schmanski, with the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, said there’s no reason to believe that this is not a legitimate bidder.

“In this particular case, and in other cases that are not dissimilar to this, we review the bid history … in order to make some sort of determination as to whether or not we believe these people are legitimate,” Schmanski said.

The auction opened on Oct. 8 at $21,000.

The full bid amount is due Monday.

“With an amount this big and they call us Monday and say they need a little more time, there could be some leeway granted by Treasurer Wojtowicz,” Schmanski said, “but generally the rules call for payment by close of business Monday.”

Szymanski says properties are offered to the next highest bidder if the top bidder fails to come up with the money.The county can seize the property if the buyer fails to secure or demolish the structures on the site within six months.

Arson is common on the dilapidated property. which has not been used for car production since the 1950s.

The plant was built in1903, and the last Packard automobile was assembeld there in the mid-50s. Other smaller industrial businesses have used the facility since, primarily for storage.

As the years passed, the plant increasingly became the target of thieves, metal scrappers, urban explorers and graffiti artists.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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