Packard Restoration – on a Grand Scale
Renovation of the Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit Begins
Finally, after years of negotiations and litigation, the famous Packard Automotive compound on the north side of Detroit is being renovated. A Peru-based investment group called Arte Express, lead by Fernando Palazuelo, are beginning the process of renovating the 35-acre site. The plan is a mixed use development with lofts, restaurants, entertainment, and offices.
In 1903, Packard Automotive moved their headquarters from Warren, Ohio, to the north side of Detroit. Nine different buildings were erected in the first two years, but for the next building, the chief architect, Albert Kahn, wanted to change the way manufacturing plants were designed. He turned to his brother Julius for his engineering expertise with reinforced concrete.
Together, the Kahn brothers designed a large, open workspace with floor-to-ceiling lighting for improved working conditions. Packard building #10 changed the way industrial buildings were designed and built. In fact, the Packard Company was so impressed with #10, that they rebuilt the first nine buildings in the same manner! Eventually, the compound stretched to 4 million square feet and with 40,000 workers, it was the largest auto plant in the country.
In 1956, the Packard Car Company went out of business. A number of businesses and owners came and went through the once bustling plant, only to fall into disarray, delinquent taxes and a complete eyesore to the city. Let’s hope the renovation becomes a success. Detroit and the Packard name deserve it.
For more information on the Packard Plant renovation and plans, check out www.packardplantproject.com