The Derelict Packard factory – Heaven for Artists & Vandals

Nikola Petrovski
Photo credit: Alecothegecko  CC BY-SA 4.0

Placed over some 330,000 m2, this colossal structure once housed the famous Packard Automotive Plant. Designed by Albert Kahn Associates this factory was revolutionary in its design.

For the first time, reinforced concrete was used giving this building the necessary strength to stand against time. But nothing can withstand time.

Packard 10 blueprint. 

Packard 10 blueprint. 

The Packard factory first opened in 1903 for its time it was the most modern and sophisticated factory in the world. Inside its walls, there was the mighty craftsman skilled in no less than eighty trades. Unfortunately, after 55 years of hard work and sweat, the Packard factory shut its doors.

Packard plant in construction.

Packard plant in construction.

Given the fact that this factory spanned over enormous space its many walls and production halls were like a God-given for all of the graffiti artists and urban explorers, even auto scrapers find their little piece of heaven among the abandoned storage units.

But not all was art and exploring, abandoned space has the irrevocable aura to attract vandals. So as the legend goes one day vandals started their adventure inside the abandoned factory among the ruins and ended up throwing a colossal truck out of the window and down from the fourth floor.

The dump-truck that was dropped from the fourth floor. Author: Csmcm CC BY-SA 3.0 

The dump-truck that was dropped from the fourth floor. Author: Csmcm CC BY-SA 3.0 

But it seems that there were more vandals than artists. Even the City of Detroit pledged a legal action in order to have this place secured. Another story tells us that one day on February 5, 2013, the famous Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work liberates us) was found written with aluminum letter placards.

The Western part of the abandoned Automotive Plant. Author: Albert duce CC BY-SA 3.0 

The Western part of the abandoned Automotive Plant. Author: Albert duce CC BY-SA 3.0 

But not all about this factory is dark and grim. In April 2013 the American basic cable and satellite television channel (AMC) announced that the Packard factory would be one of the locations where the drama Low Winter Sun would be filmed.

Interior, taken October 12, 2009. Author: Csmcm CC BY-SA 3.0

Interior, taken October 12, 2009. Author: Csmcm CC BY-SA 3.0

In order to secure the premises, the Packard factory was put up for auction. The opening bid was $975.000. There were no takers. Another auction in October 2013 posted a starting bid of just $21.000.  The buyer was Dr. Jill Van Horn acquiring this factory for $6,038,000.

A view of part of the former Packard plant.  Author: Csmcm CC BY-SA 3.0

A view of part of the former Packard plant.  Author: Csmcm CC BY-SA 3.0

But the deadline for paying was missed and the factory was given to the second highest bidder Bill Hults, a Chicago-area developer buying this piece of land for $2,000,000. But it seems like a curse was placed on this factory and Bill Hults also failed to pay the entire sum.

At the end, the factory was bought by Fernando Palazuelo for $405.000. His idea for the future of this factory among many things involves a free space for artists.