Texas Doctor Wins Bid for Packard Plant—But Will She Pay?
- Oct 31, 2013
By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor
After an intense bidding war that amounted to 117 online bidders and last-minute skyrocketing amounts, the largest industrial ruin in Detroit was sold to a family practice doctor from suburban Dallas, for just above $6 million. It appears that Jill Van Horn of Ennis, Texas, who won the Wayne County tax-foreclosure auction for the abandoned Packard Plant, along with several still-to-be-identified investors from Detroit, think they could revive the century-old and crumbling plant.
Wayne County had set a deadline for 4:15 p.m. on Monday, October 28, but Crain’s Detroit Business reports that Van Horn failed to make the payment and finalize the deal for the 3.5-million-square-foot property. However, a rather strange statement that likened Detroit’s asset potential to hydroelectric power was released on Tuesday by Van Horn’s spokesman, Davis Marshall. Consequently, Wayne County officials extended the payment deadline for Wednesday, October 30.
Though vague and bizarre, the speech-like statement released on behalf of the winning bidder points out that “under the development plans that Jill Van Horn has co-designed for Detroit, the city will develop through a variety of financial mechanisms” provided by the joint effort of unnamed investment bankers, Hedge Fund lenders, local developers, private investors and foundations.
Designed by Albert Kahn—one of the most famous industrial architects in the country— in 1903 as the headquarters and assembly line of the former Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, the automotive plant sits on more than 40 acres on East Grand Boulevard, in Detroit’s East Side. The factory made luxury Packard cars until 1958 when it was shut down, although various smaller businesses continued to operate within some of the 40 buildings until the late 1990s. Wayne County officials foreclosed on the decaying property earlier this year because of almost $1 million in unpaid taxes that owner Dominic Cristini had refused to pay.
Currently an edgy destination for photographers and graffiti artists, the Packard Plant could become an “economic engine” for the city. According to The Detroit News, Jill Van Horn and her partners plan to transform the property into a modular home factory where thousands of people would be employed. But it remains to be seen if Van Horn—who allegedly doesn’t have any real estate background—will indeed pay for the plant. If she fails to meet the deadline, the plant could be sold to the second top bidder, Illinois-based Bill Hults who offered $2.2 million for the plant.
UPDATE: Detroit Free Press reports that Jill Van Horn’s bid was cancelled after the Texas doctor failed again to make a downpayment for the Packard Plant. This means that Bill Hults, the second bidder, has until 4 p.m. Thursday to deliver the cash.
Image via Google Maps