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Update On Progress Of The Packard Plant Project

We last checked in on progress at the Packard Plant Project in Detroit, Michigan on May 12, 2015. Since that time stabilization efforts, structural testing, planning, and permitting have been ongoing.

The warm fall and early winter weather allowed work to begin on the environmental cleanup of the former Administrative Office building of the Packard Motor Car Company. The lead photo shows workers sealing up openings in the building before cleaning and washing operations of the inner structure, ceiling, walls and floors.

Packard Plant Project 2

  • Workers stabilizing the bridge’s cornice molding and brick work.

Inspection work uncovered loose stone and bricks on the bridge over East Grand Blvd. that were in danger of falling onto the road. After the completion of that job in July, the sides of the structure were covered with a temporary fiber covering decorated to look like the bridge did back in its day. The bodies that Packard constructed traveled across this bridge before being installed on the chassis production line.

Packard Plant Bridge

  • The stabilized bridge with the new temporary covering thats gives the scene a new look.  

Other developments include: recording the architectural dimensions needed for the rebuilding of the Administration Building, Fernando Palazuelo the owner of the plant is working with potential tenants, and seeking financing, boxing champ Tommy Hearns, who grew up two blocks away from the Plant has expressed an interest in setting up a gym at the site, the Packard Plant Project is looking down the road and would like to attract a brewery to the second on phase of the project.

To truly understand the conditions and obstacles at the site when Palazuelo and his company Art Express  purchased it, watch the must see video ‘Packard: The Last Shift’  by Brian Kaufman, of the “Detroit Free Press.”

  • A view of an area of the Administration Building after clean up. 

Packard Plant Project 5

26 responses to “Update On Progress Of The Packard Plant Project

  1. I have been a big Packard lover for years. However the time has come to level the complete complex. From what I understand parts of the Packard factory were in bad shape when the plant was closed down in 1956.

    John S.

    • 60yrs later and still standing – how bad could it have been? In the summer of 1973 I drove my ’51 Packard 300 over that bridge – one of many Packards that day. Bravo Mr Palazuelo!

    • This plant is way to cool to give up on, I’m glad that it is being renovated , if I could have my wish it would be used for building Packards but this is the next best thing. Best wishes to all involved and it’s great to see things starting to turn around in Detroit

  2. I haven’t a clue why I feel so sentimental for a build that I’ve never seen and was closed long before I was born but I do – thank all of you that are fighting to save this place and hopefully I’ll see it soon – Chad, Fort Wayne Indiana.

    • You are close too the where iconic automobiles were built. The Cord, Auburn and Deusenberg. I have visited there. Maybe the old Packard Plant can be an attraction. I was raised walking distance to the plant. My Grandmother was a welder there. She said it payed 70 cents as an experienced one. 35 cent inexperienced. My Dad friend made engines there in WW2. Maybe saving a building that thousands of people who worked hard seems wasteful. Maybe the next generation or two will appreciate the efforts to save it. Thanks for reading.

  3. Although it may be a lot of work, it has a great history, that should be shared. We’ve taken many out of the bone yard and returned it to he road, this is a little different, but no less achievable, especially with modern technology. Hats off to them!

  4. Boy this is such a thrill to see this piece of history being saved. I truly wish I lived near there so I could be a part of its restoration. So glad you are keeping us informed David. Thank you sir.

  5. Such an important part of Detroit history and of American history. Thanks to those who are working so hard.

    So much American history rolled out of the plant on East Grand Boulevard. As the plant once was a symbol of American industrial might, only to become a symbol of the decay of the Motor City, let it become the symbol of a revitalized Detroit.

  6. We had the privilege of touring the old Packard plant in 1982 when it was still in pretty good shape. We ended up coming home with a phone booth from the assembly building and the only surviving chandelier out of the Administrative Building. The Detroit Board of Education had leased it, stripped out the old lighting and installed updated lighting. The old chandeliers were piled up in the plant building. There were four small ones and one large one. There were enough parts to make a complete small one. I assume the rest were scrapped. They were legally acquired with permission of the property manager.

    It’s so sad to see the present-day condition of a facility that manufactured some of the finest automobiles in the world as well as WWII PT boat engines and RR Merlin aircraft engines.

  7. Packard is so symbolic of what was great about America, and unfortunately, what has gone wrong with America. Packard is like a genius uncle that died too young. I’m so glad someone has a vision for that forlorn building, but there is something to what Mr. Shireman said.

  8. I rode my bike down there 2 years ago with Wheelhouse Detroit and while it was neat to see up close and I hope they pull it off, it’s in a very depressed area of Detroit. (as if there’s an area that isn’t) It seems like it will be hard to attract businesses to locate there.

    • Joe, there are LOTS of areas of Detroit that are not depressed. If the last time you were down there was two years ago, go down again. You have not been in a long time. I was there at Thanksgiving and, although it was around Campus Martius, it was booming–no exaggeration. There were people all over walking back to the office with lunch in their hands, and building cranes everywhere working on building or renovating projects. Detroit has inCREDIBLE history, and we need to continue to work bringing it back to its fullest potential. It was the fastest growing city in the 1890s through 1920s. It’s people that make the city, not the decay that makes us.

  9. Packard had their international meet in Detroit in 1972, and on Saturday (show day) we drove in a convoy through the plant and over the bridge and down the assembly line! We drove our 1934 Standard 8 Club sedan through the plant on the way to the old test track, owned by Ford at the time, and we could do as many laps as we wanted. I tolled my Std 8 at speeds over 100 miles per hour in the next to the highest lane. On the top lane a 1934 Twelve rolled past me like I was tied to a tree! My car had a high speed rear gear or a ” western gear” as it was called back in the day! Unfortunately the car was destroyed in a lightening strike that burned my house to the ground. I still have what is left, but at age 73 I do not see anything happening.

      • It was a crushing blow with loosing 5 cars and a box car load of Lionel trains plus a lot of other “stuff”. We got out with our lives and our little wiener dog. That was the most important, not “stuff”!

    • WOW! The assembly line was still in place at the time> Like the conveyors? Did you get to take your cars up and down the freight elevators? Was there any assembly equipment still in place? What was it like ?

  10. I have a lot of mixed feelings on this project. Sometimes I think that maybe a significant part (like the bridge) be restored and kept pristine and the rest should just be demolished and turned into something completely different. Then there’s the part of me that demands that historical buildings be restored (and maybe converted to other uses on the inside) so that future generations can know what they stood for…

  11. That factory is a huge project, I wish them well, but it`s been going down hill for decades. Now, the Packard proving grounds on the other hand is looking very good. Many building have restored and looking very good, along with the timing tower, a hanger and part of the original test track, check it out.

  12. To me this is way more appealing than bulldozing the site. This has a character and history that a new structure cannot provide. Yes, it is a challenge, but without challenges, life would be pretty dull. Wish them success in their efforts.

  13. It feels good to actually see work now being done to restore the old Packard plant. We had to wonder if anything would ever be done, or would the whole thing be demolished. Looking good.

  14. In a similar way here in South Australia, the original Chrysler Australia factory at Tonsley Park ( a suburb south of our capital city -Adelaide) that was taken over by Mitsubishi Motors and eventually closed has been reinvented by the government and now functions as an extension of one of our university’s together with some hi tech industries. Much of the basic interior of the main assembly building has been repainted to allow modern industries to work there but the ”ghost” of the Chrysler plant is still visible – the large o’head cranes are ‘parked’ , much of the factory floor has been sealed with epoxy to give a viable working surface that still shows where the stamping presses were and many other fitting unique to a large automobile manufacturing have been preserved to allow later generations to see what the site was originally built for. Even the 5 sided timber ‘pentastar’ shaped lectern made by Chrysler apprentices and used by Chrysler management for major announcements has been preserved for use on ‘special’ occasions. The whole site is owned by the state government and the various tenants lease suitable areas for their business ventures. I’m pleased to add a little bit of automotive history to your vast store of knowledge.
    On behalf of all automotive and engineering enthusiasts everywhere, I thank you for the amazing research you present to us every week.
    regards John

  15. I believe the time is NOW to either save or demolish the Packard , as its structure is beginning to fail.
    Perhaps it could be rebuilt as a “mixed industry” center with some of the old Packard fittings and fittings retained.
    It could be called Packard Park or similar. Saving this old building will revitalize the whole area.
    The unrelated Hewlett Packard company could use it as warehouse or training center and play on the name!

    In Melbourne , Australia, where I live there was the empty “Argus Building” owned by the defunct Argus newspaper.
    This solidly built building, empty and boarded up for years, has recently been reborn as a college building.
    This has saved the building and added to value of businesses around it.

    Best of luck with the Packard factory.
    P.S. I love way the have attempted to recreate the bridge and the factory clock!

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