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Crews begin partial demolition of Detroit's Packard Plant

Crews begin demolition on part of Detroit's Packard Plant on 9/29.
Briana Rice
Crews begin demolition on part of Detroit's Packard Plant on 9/29.

Crews began tearing down part of Detroit’s Packard Plant on Thursday.

City officials said the former automotive plant caused an “imminent danger” to nearby residents and businesses.

“The abandoned Packard plant has been a source of national embarrassment for the city of Detroit for many years,” Mayor Mike Duggan said during a press conference before the demolition process began. “It's been a source of personal pain for people in this community.”

A demolition crew began tearing down 6199 Concord Ave., which was owned by Fernando Palazuelo.

In March, a judge ordered Palazuelo to apply for demolition permits within 21 days and foot the bill, city officials say. He did not meet that court-ordered deadline and so the city has moved forward with tearing down the buildings on their own.

The structure is near a business called Display Group and a few homes.

City officials say the first part of the demolition process will cost nearly 1.7 million dollars. For now, the city is footing the bill for the demolition after the legal battle with the owner of the building but they plan to sue.

The buildings span two city blocks. They’re concrete, with chipped paint, graffiti, and in some parts, nature taken over. Neighbors say debris falls.

LaJuan Counts is the city’s demolition director.

"Imagine if this was the structure that you lived next to or lived across the street from and you looked at every day," Counts said. "How do you think that would impact your mental health on a daily basis? It's because of that reason we want to be very intentional about assisting the quality of life for our residents."

Tara Moxley called the building an eyesore. "It makes us feel like we're forgotten."

She says debris falls from the building, people break into it, animals make it their home. She says it's hard for kids to play near it.

She said this building being torn down is a new opportunity and feels like a promise kept.

The city plans to tear down more buildings throughout the Packard Plant over the next two years, using federal COVID funding and state funding.

Mayor Mike Duggan says he estimates it will cost more than $15 million dollars.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.