With most disputes over the ownership of the former Packard plant on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit resolved, the new owner of the plant told the Detroit Free Press this week that he intends to begin cleanup soon and eventually restore some of the plant with the help of Albert Kahn Associates, the firm named for the man who designed the plant in 1903.Though Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo paid $405,000 for the 40-acre factory complex – vacated by Packard in 1956 – at a Wayne County foreclosure auction in December, he’s since had to clear a few hurdles to begin work on the deteriorating and vandalized buildings.First, in March, the former owner of the plant, Dominic Cristini – whose failure to pay about $1 million in back taxes led to the foreclosure of the factory – stepped forward to claim that he and a number of investors who backed him still held an interest in the factory worth $3.5 million. Though Palazuelo then described the claim as “typical blackmail,” he told the Free Press that he reached a deal with Cristini last month, and that he probably didn’t have the clear title to the plant that he previously thought he had.Then, earlier this summer, a number of Detroit news sources reported that Palazuelo owed the county more than $92,000 in delinquent taxes. At the time Palazuelo said that he believed his lawyers had taken care of the back taxes, but the Detroit Free Press noted that he only paid the county those back taxes after he resolved the dispute with Cristini.That leaves just one last hurdle, a dispute over a 4.5-acre parcel within the Packard plant complex that includes half of the much-photographed pedestrian bridge crossing East Grand Boulevard and that was not included in the county foreclosure auction. Palazuelo is reportedly working with the city to resolve that claim.
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