“Detroit’s biggest ruin, the 40-acre Packard auto plant, will begin a European-inspired rebirth this summer under a plan that officials hope will revitalize one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and symbolize a reversal of 50 years of economic decline.”
“I had been trying to land an in-person interview with Packard Plant owner Fernando Palazuelo for over a year. My requests were never ignored, but scheduling conflicts always prevented it from happening. So when I received a call last Monday evening from one of his advisors asking if I’d be available for breakfast and an interview with Palazuelo on Wednesday, naturally I jumped at the chance.”
“Palazuelo is a native of Spain who has been developing historic but dilapidated sites in Peru since losing everything in the recession. He said in an interview with Crain’s last week that he plans to make offers to buy five of greater downtown’s most storied buildings: the 255,000-square-foot Book Tower and adjoining 260,000-square-foot Book Building; the 996,000-square-foot Penobscot Building; and the Albert Kahn Building and Fisher Building in the New Center Area, which total 925,000 square feet.”
“Il aime les métaphores guerrières. Lui, l’ancien soldat de la légion étrangère espagnole qui compare un projet immobilier à une campagne militaire. Mais, à Detroit, Fernando Palazuelo est arrivé après la bataille. Après la guerre, même. Cette guerre économique qui a ravagé l’ancienne capitale industrielle des Etats-Unis, la transformant peu à peu en ville fantôme. Qu’importe. Cet investisseur espagnol est venu dans la principale ville du Michigan le fusil chargé de dollars pour redonner du faste à ‘Motor City.'”
“Fernando Palazuelo, the Spanish-born businessman who bought the old Packard Plant, is getting a little rock-star treatment locally these days.
“Louis Aguilar of The Detroit News reports that Palazuelo showed up Thursday at the Holy Ghost Full Gospel Church on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit, where nearly 200 white millennials and older African-Americans had packed the lobby and turned their attention toward him.”
“An American flag sticking out of his breast pocket, the owner of the largest piece of blight in a city awash in urban ruin told an east side Detroit crowd that everything from drones to senior housing could be in the works for the former Packard Automotive Plant.”
“Fernando Palazuelo entered the violet-colored lobby of Holy Ghost Full Gospel Church and the impact of his presence on the mixed crowd was palpable.
“Nearly 200 white millennials and older African-Americans who packed the lobby Thursday night turned their attention to the 59-year-old Spanish developer, who has dreams for the old Packard plant — one of Detroit’s grand ruins. His silver hair was perfect as always. His shirt looked crisp and freshly pressed. Many commented on the tiny American flag jutting from his lapel.”
“Fernando Palazuelo, the Spaniard who bought the largest piece of blight in Detroit last year, told a crowd of about 150 east side Detroit community members and others that his development plans continue to move forward.”
“The project manager for arguably one of the most ambitious historic restoration and redevelopment projects the country has seen in recent years has this to say to skeptics: The revival of the 3.5-million-square-foot, crumbling Packard Plant in Detroit is happening.”