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Owner of Packard plant seeking tax freeze for property

August 7, 2016 GMT

DETROIT (AP) — The owner of Detroit’s blighted Packard automobile plant complex is ready to begin a 10- to 15-year redevelopment if City Council approves a 12-year tax freeze.

Fernando Palazuelo, the owner of Arte Express, announced in November 2013 plans to restore and reopen the 40-acre complex that had become a symbol of Detroit’s decline as a mixed-use commercial, residential and cultural development. But so far, no redevelopment has taken place on the land he bought for $405,000 at a Wayne County tax foreclosure auction.

Kari Smith, director of development for Arte Express Detroit, told The Detroit Free Press ( ) that the first two phases would involve a gut renovation of the former Packard Motor Co.’s corporate offices into a modern office space and the creation of a recreational complex whose details are still to come.


She said work crews could start on the first phase as soon as council approves a plan to freeze the site’s property taxes at current levels for 12 years.

“We expect it’s going to take a number of years to pull a profit — but that’s not our main goal,” Smith said. “Our main goal is the architectural renovation of these buildings and the benefits that this transition is going to have for the community.”

Mayor Mike Duggan’s office would not comment on Arte Express’ plan. Councilwoman Mary Sheffield, whose district includes the Packard site, said she is aware of the tax-freeze proposal and likes the idea to help boost development in the area.

“It’s exciting just to see this scale of development outside of midtown and downtown,” she said. “I see it as a catalyst development. Hopefully things will begin to spread out of that area.”

Palazuelo’s biggest hurdle is still assembling the financing, which is expected to be more than $400 million. Arte Express said it has $11 million to $12 million for the project’s initial phase and an undisclosed sum needed for the second phase.


Information from: Detroit Free Press,