The Packard Building Faces Demolition


Another historic Detroit industrial complex is facing destruction.

The Packard Plant, one of the most famous and neglected industrial buildings in Detroit is facing demolition. The purported owner of the site sent crews to survey the area before closing it off to the public in order to demolish the remains of the famous building, which will be done in the coming weeks. During the last few decades the site became a popular underground site for artists, the homeless and scavengers.

Its last industrial tenant moved from the building a few years ago and Detroit officials approved plans to demolish it. According to it will cost the owner $6 million to demolish the Albert Kahn designed 35 million square feet building. He hopes to recover that sum by selling the steel from the building's structure. Kahn was the most important industrial architect during the first half of the 20th century, and the Packard Plant, built in 1903, was an important milestone in his career. Packard produced cars in this building from 1907 to 1957, a year before it went out of business.

Some regard Packard as the first American luxury car brand. It started manufacturing cars in 1899 as the Ohio Automobile Company. The cars were sold as Packards, the founding family name, and later the company was renamed as Packard. During World War II Packard produced the Merlin aero engines under license from Rolls Royce. A series of management mistakes after World War II and the continuing rise of the three big American car manufacturers led the to the failure of the company and its closure in 1958.

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