But They Can’t Afford To Tear It Down

Steve Dibert, MFI-Miami

 “The city can kiss my ass. Do me a favor and knock the Packard down.  I’m tired of it,” -Current Packard Plant Owner Dominic Cristini

Wayne County announced today it was proceeding with foreclosing on the former Packard Plant for an unpaid tax bill of $750,000 to the City of Detroit that the current owner of the abandoned automobile plant refuses to pay.

The Packard Plant opened in 1903 and churned out luxury automobiles until the plant closed in 1956.  It was replaced by smaller manufacturing businesses for the next 25 years but as more automobile suppliers relocated outside the City of Detroit, the Packard Plant became a hot spot for for artists, photographers, graffiti artists, tourists, urban spelunkers and urban adventurers from the around the globe all interested in Rust Belt Chic.  As cool as the 40 acre Packard plant may appear, it has seen it’s share of arsonists, scrappers, vandals and death.

According to the Motor City Muckraker‘s Steve Neavling, the Packard property’s current owner, Dominic Cristini believes,  “He owes no taxes because the city won’t provide basic services to protect his property from arsonists, vandals and thieves.”

It appears that neither Wayne County or the City of Detroit plan on doing anything with the property in the foreseeable future.  According to the Detroit Free Press, Raymond Scott, deputy director of Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering & Environmental Department said, “The city has no current plans to demolish any of the Packard buildings, due to the prohibitive cost involved,”

Demolition estimates range from $5-10 million dollars just for the demolition for the 40 remaining structures on the property.  However, the cost of cleaning up nearly 110 years of industrial pollutants on the property and asbestos is unknown.  Originally, Crisitini believed he could pay for the clean up salvaging historical artifacts from the building but he has since abandoned the idea and has decided to let it go and become the City of Detroit’s problem.

As the Motor City Muckraker’s Steve Neavling points out, “Detroit’s decision to foreclose on the 40-acre property is risky. The uninsured city would shoulder a huge liability and is in no financial shape to demolish the concrete industrial buildings that are loaded with asbestos and other health hazards. The city already is overwhelmed with thousands of derelict properties.”

So the like an aging Prom Night Dumpster Baby that no one wants, the Packard Plant will sit and continue to languish to remind the world of Detroit’s glory days and it’s descent into Mad Max times.

Support local investigative journalism like you see at the Motor City Muckraker.  Steve Neavling is one of Detroit’s premier investigative journalists and a former City Hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press.  That was until Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh had an adolescent temper tantrum about how Neavling quoted him in an article and pressured the Free Press to fire him. -Steve



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