If you have a spare $975,000 lying around, as well as an affinity for classic American cars, architecture and urban blight, consider investing in the wreckage of the Packard Motor Car Company plant in Detroit. It's going up for auction later this year.
Car and Driver reports that the infamously decrepit Packard plant — for decades a symbol of Detroit's slow and painful economic decline — is being offered up by Wayne County at a foreclosure auction in September. As they note in their story, after years and years of vandalism, arson and neglect, the one who finally did the ancient plant in was the tax man. Go figure.
According to Crain's Detroit, the $975,000 covers the sum of taxes owned on 43 parcels of land that make up the massive property. It's going to be bundled up to be sold as one property, and if it doesn't go in September, it could get sold for as low as $21,500 in October. From their story:
"That would be considered a steal in a lot of situations," said David Szymanski, Wayne County chief deputy treasurer. But as he also noted, this is not a normal situation.
The plant has long been a victim for scrappers, arsonists, graffiti taggers and vandals. "There are more questions than answers" when it comes to assessing the condition and value of the property, Szymanski said.
The Packard plant first started cranking out cars in 1907 with construction having started four years prior. As C&D notes, at its peak in 1943 the plant employed some 36,000 people in Detroit as they cranked out some of the greatest luxury automobiles America has ever produced, like the Super Eight and the Twin Six. And when war broke out, the Packard plant, like most car manufacturers, reinvented itself to build aircraft and marine engines.
Sadly, Packard struggled after the war, and their identity as a luxury manufacturer became diluted. The factory produced its last car in 1954, and all its employees were laid off by 1958.
But while Packard died, the plant didn't go anywhere. It has been sitting there for decades, rotting, falling further and further into ruin and becoming a target for vandals, illegal dumpers, and just about everything else you might expect at a massive abandoned industrial site.
It's also a popular spot for tourists, and as Crain's says, it has even hosted a few theater performances and raves. For more on the history of the plant and its current state, check out this excellent Detroit Free Press report from last year.
The plant was finally foreclosed on in March, but that took a while because of a great deal of legal wrangling over who actually owned it. The entity described as its current owner, Bioresource Inc., expressed plans to finally demolish it, but then they failed to pay their taxes on the property.
So now the Packard plant is looking for a new owner. Maybe some smart fella will wait until October and snatch it up for less than the cost of a new Chevrolet Malibu.
Photos credit AP, Getty