Fernando Palazuelo Appears To Be Lead Actor In A Soap Opera That Will Cost Wayne County Taxpayers $1.8 Milion Thanks To Wojtowicz
After nearly three weeks of watching Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz and his Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski incompetent handling the tax auction of the 40 acre abandoned Packard Plant in Detroit, Peruvian Developer, Fernando Palazuelo will be the new owner.
Palazuelo, who was the third place finisher in the bidding for the property with a bid of $2.2 million became the winner after Dr. Jill Van Horn could not come up with the $6 million winning bid and second place finisher, Bill Hults, could not deliver the remaining balance of $1.8 million of his bid by 4:30 today. He had given the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office a non-refundable $200,000 deposit to extend his deadline until today. Wojtowicz and Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski lowered his second place bid by over 65% after he got into a bidding war with Van Horn.
Hults had the opportunity to buy the Packard site from Wayne County prior to the county’s annual tax auction back this past summer for $1 million but was unable to come up with the cash.
Fernando Palazuelo of Lima, Peru will now be given the opportunity to buy the property for $405,000 after the Wayne County Treasurers Office allowed him to reduce his bid from $2.2 million.
This is a far cry from what Szymanski told the Detroit Free Press on October 26th after the auction concluded, “So we anticipate we will have somebody perform at around $2 million, in a worst-case scenario,”
The big question is can Palazuelo pay the estimated $20 million in demolition costs for the rest of the buildings, clear the debris and clean 110 years of toxic contaminants from the land? The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s report from 1999 states there are piles 6-18 inches deep of Asbestos in the tunnels under the plant.
Mark Morante, senior vice president of program administration for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the state’s quasi-public economic development agency, told the Detroit Free Press last year that there is a demand from international companies for shovel ready industrial sites in Detroit but the Packard site is full of challenges,
“The cost of putting it back in use is so high — basically, it’s economically unfeasible. But they need new factories to be operational within 15 months. They cannot go to the Packard site and meet that deadline. It is a difficult issue, particularly when we’re trying to assist Detroit, Saginaw, Flint, Pontiac to reinvent themselves. There is a need for up-front money to get those kinds of things done.”
We shall see if he can make it happen. Palazuelo is probably the right man to tackle a project like the Packard Plant site. After all, he is the most experienced developer and he also has extensive experience redeveloping properties while dealing with corrupt governments.