Detroit evicting man from warehouse at defunct Packard plant

Posted at 9:45 PM, Oct 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-05 21:45:40-04

DETROIT (AP) — The city of Detroit is evicting a 74-year-old auto body worker who was living and working in a warehouse amid the ruins of the Packard car plant.

Allan Hill received an eviction notice in August from the city, which notes the building is to be closed due to code violations.

Hill told The Detroit News that he’s now staying in a trailer. But he maintains that he had agreements with the building’s current owner to live there.

“I haven’t had my day in court,” said Hill, who has served as an unofficial spokesman for the plant and has been featured in numerous articles and documentaries about the former industrial site and the area’s decline.

The graffitied warehouse is part of a 50,000-square-foot (4,645-square-meter) property on the site of the massive 3.5 million-square-foot (325,000-square-meter) Packard Automotive Co. plant which includes a number of buildings and covers several city blocks.

James Lumley, Hill’s attorney, said Hill didn’t keep the property neat and that’s likely what prompted the city to put pressure on the building’s owner, Greg Meyer. Meyer would not comment when reached by phone.

Dave Bell, director of the Detroit Building Safety Engineering and Environmental Department, said the city closed Allen’s unlicensed auto repair business and issued citations to the property owner because of various code violations.

The plant was built in 1903, but the structure had become obsolete by 1954 and Packard car production was being done elsewhere. A few years later, the company went out of business. The city took over the complex in 1994 when an investor failed to pay taxes. Another company later took ownership but also lost the property due to unpaid taxes.

Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo, who bought the plant’s 121,000-square-foot (11,241-square-meter) administration building in 2013, has vowed to redevelop the complex by converting it into apartments, retail shops and art galleries. But signs of his promised development have yet to rise from the rubble.