By Vickie Thomas

DETROIT (WWJ) – What will become of the crumbling old Packard Plant on Detroit’s east side? The answer to that question is still up in the air despite a Texas doctor’s winning bid to buy the plant.

“Show me the money.” That’s what Wayne County officials are saying to Dr. Jill Van Horn and her group of Texas investors who last week won an online tax-foreclosure auction for the 40-acre Packard Plant, located along East Grand Boulevard.


Wednesday marks a deadline for the group to pay a large chunk of the $6.38 million winning bid. Earlier this week, Van Horn said she plans to build modular homes and offices at the plant, but county officials, who question the legitimacy of the deal, say she has yet to come up with the money.

However, a three-page letter released Tuesday on Van Horn’s behalf guarantees the deadline will be met.

“Dr. Van Horn’s partners consist of all the non-profit developers who either own land or have designated development areas within the city. Furthermore, if the county doubts that we have the ability to perform, we challenge the county by stating at this time, Dr. Van Horn and her lenders, investors are prepared to travel from Texas to Detroit and sit down with the county and make and offer for every vacant, abandoned and dilapidated apartment building within Detroit,” the letter read.

Davis Marshall, a spokesperson for Van Horn, told the Detroit News that the letter attributed to Mark Day, a Van Horn representative, was meant as a speech to investors. The letter goes on to say that Van Horn has a grand vision to transform the city.

“Dr. Van Horn’s prophecy was to resurrect Detroit by providing education, jobs, and vocational training to the city’s residents, simultaneously unplugging the financial arteries of the city. That decision was based on the gravity of the hour and the magnitude of potential jobs that the plant offers for the people of Detroit.”

The letter says Van Horn’s plan will generate money like the city has never seen before.

“Under the development plans that Jill Van Horn has co-designed for Detroit, the city will develop through a variety of financial mechanisms that gradually will combine into a process that will churn out capital as never before.”

Read the complete letter (.pdf format)

The Packard Plant was built in1903, and the last Packard automobile was assembled 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.


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