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Big bid for Packard Plant fails to materialize

Inside the Packard Plant
Angelique DuLong
Part of the Packard Plant

The $6 million bid for Detroit's blighted Packard Plant site sounded too good to be true.

And it was.  

After issuing an incoherent statement about her intentions, a Texas doctor who made the astonishing bid for one of the city's most infamous eyesores failed to send a $2 million dollar "good faith" payment to Wayne County.

The county is now in talks with the second highest bidder - a man who also failed to make good on a previous offer for the property.

Bill Hults is a Chicago developer who wants to build a "city within a city" on the property.  He bid one million dollars for the Packard Plant property in September, but the money didn't materialize.

Hults bid a little more than $2 million for the property in last week's auction, dropping out after the Texas bid.

Wayne County Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski says he is very hopeful, despite the critics who say the Packard Plant site is beyond hope.

I've had a number of people say, 'there's no way in the world somebody can make something of that Packard Plant.' Well, the building I'm sitting in now, 400 Monroe, down by Greektown -- this building sat vacant for about 40 years. When Ted Gatzaros had the vision to say, 'I'm gonna turn that into an office building, I'll bet you people were saying, 'you gotta be nuts'. But he came in here, put in offices, and we've been in here for 20 years now. This is a functioning office building. So to just write off the Packard plant without giving somebody the opportunity to turn it into something would be a tragedy.

Szymanski is hopeful, but not unrealistic.  The site will need extensive remediation, and some buildings will have to be demolished.  The rest will require expensive renovations.  He puts the ultimate price tag for developing the Packard Plant at $100 million - at least. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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