DETROIT (AP) – A building on the site of the former Packard auto factory complex on Detroit’s eastside is getting repurposed.
The Display Group, an event specialist company, is spending $750,000 on renovating Building 22 on the 40-acre site.
The company has made the 255,000-square-foot warehouse its new headquarters and celebrated Thursday with a tour that was attended by Mayor Mike Duggan.
“I was in awe to have seen the way the company has used this space,” Duggan said. “The Packard Plant has been a major symbol internationally of Detroit’s decline, and to see a company like this move in and hire people, expand and reuse the property just means so much.”
The larger portion of the complex was built in the early 1900s. The Packard company became a dominant luxury carmaker in the United States in the late 1920s and by the 1940s had 36,000 employees.
The last auto was made there in the mid- to late-1950s and the buildings have since been used for other manufacturing and as warehouses.
The city claimed the bulk of the property in 1994 after former owners failed to pay back taxes. Over time, the site became one of the most blighted areas in the city as tires, thousands of shoes, old televisions and other trash was illegally dumped in and around the various buildings.
Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo bought most of the complex last year for $405,000 at a Wayne County tax foreclosure auction. He wants to develop apartments, retail, high-tech entrepreneurs, light industrial operations and artist studios.
The Display Group purchased Building 22 last fall from its previous owner and is putting together a 10,000-square-foot event space and offices there. Building 22 has been empty about five years, according to The Detroit News.
“We are delighted to be fully restoring and upgrading a building that is an important part of the history of Detroit, particularly in this long-neglected part of the city,” said company president Rick Portwood.
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