With some of America's best-known car brands culled during 2008's financial crisis, it's easy to forget that some of America's greatest marques have now been gone for decades. One of those is Packard, once renowned as one of the world's top luxury automobile makers.
The company disappeared in 1958, leaving only its legacy and the empty shell of its old plant in Detroit behind. That plant has become a metaphor for the city's desolation and financial troubles, left to rot and ruin over time. But that could change in future, as a Peruvian property developer has made it his mission to give the plant a future. A $405,000 bid, reports The New York Times, was enough to secure the property over bidders from Texas and Illinois in last year's auction. But now comes the hard, expensive work: Turning its fortunes around.
Sadly, the plant won't see a return to its glory days of producing luxury automobiles. Automakers have moved on to more modern, more productive facilities. But the land, consisting of over forty crumbling buildings, could see success as a mixed-use facility--light industry, warehouses, offices, and even recreational facilities. The buyer, Fernando Palazuelo, is unfazed by the plant's location in the heart of a particularly downtrodden neighborhood. He's had prior success at turning around properties in problem cities. "I am a real estate developer, but a very special one" he says.
The location could be considered convenient--it's right by major roads and the expressway. It's also huge, and the plant's history and charisma is equally important to Palazuelo. "The name Packard means something", he explains. It remains to be seen whether the Peruvian developer is able to turn around such a large project--as much as $350 million may be needed for total redevelopment--but if he does, one of America's most iconic automotive buildings could rise once again.