Packard plant headed to auction with $21,000 opening bid

The plant will be given to the city of Detroit if it does not sell.

Michigan's Wayne County will auction off the historic Packard plant located on the east side of Detroit later this month. The opening bid has been set at $21,000, a sum that represents $500 for each of the site's 43 parcels.

Foreclosed last March, the 40-acre facility failed to sell at an auction held last month where bidding started at $1 million - the sum of the back taxes owed - after a key investor pulled out of the deal. The second auction will begin next week and is seen as a last resort in trying to sell the plant to a new owner. If no one speaks up, the property will be given to the city of Detroit. If the troubled Detroit government refuses to take possession of the plant, Wayne County policymakers will donate it to a state-run agency that will once again attempt to sell it.

Detroit's government has been wondering what to do with the run-down factory for the past several years. Considered a danger and an eyesore by local residents, the place is regularly set on fire and home to numerous trespassers but it still had at least one legal tenant last year. Bioresource, the factory's current owner, did not keep its promise to demolish the place altogether and salvage the leftover scrap metal, a process which city officials estimate could cost upwards of $20 million.

Wayne County's Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski hopes that a wealthy bidder will take over the 102-year old Albert Kahn-penned structure and put it to good use. Tearing it down and starting from scratch is an option, but Szymanski believes that the foundations are not damaged and that most of the buildings are salvageable.

"When they built these, they built them like the pyramids, to last forever, not knowing how strong the material was,” he explained. "The framework is strong enough I think that you've got no problem. I doubt that it's something you want to demolish and start from scratch; you probably want to use this infrastructure, and rebuild.”

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