The South American developer who purchased the crumbling Packard Plant in 2013 with ambitious redevelopment plans now owes almost twice what he paid for the site and is facing foreclosure.
Crain’s Detroit Business finds Fernando Palazuelo has accrued a little over $820,000 in back taxes and unpaid water and sewerage bills at the sprawling plant synonymous with Detroit’s decline. That’s even more than the $774,723 he owed in October when he vowed to pay a chunk of the debt back by the end of 2020.
The properties with three years of past due taxes face foreclosure if they’re not paid back by March, meaning they would return to the same tax auction where Palazuelo picked them up.
In an email to Crain’s, Palazuelo blamed the languishing project on pandemic related losses at his other businesses.
“As you are well aware, our efforts at the Packard Plant are funded entirely from our operations in Lima and other areas of the world where the commercial operations of the tenants in our buildings have been on government-imposed shutdown for the past year. However, we are fully aware of the amount needed to pay past due taxes and the extreme drainage fee assessments for our Detroit properties prior to the end of March and are making arrangements to ensure that those amounts are paid well in advance of the deadline.”
After seven years of limited activity at the site, word came last fall that Palazuelo was backing off his grand vision to convert the site into a hub for commercial activity, dining and art. According to reports, he had begun seeking industrial buyers or tenants and would demolish portions of the site.
In 2017, he told the Detroit News, “I’m committed to the success of this project. I assure you, we will not fail.”