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Old factory's new owner hopes to revitalize Detroit industry

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 04: Ruins at the abandoned Packard Automotive Plant are seen on September 4, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. The Packard Plant was a 3.5 million square foot car manufacturing plant built completed in 1911. Major operations ceased in 1958, though the plant was used in a limited capacity until the 1990s, with outer buildings used through the mid 2000s. Since then the buildings have fallen into disrepair - they are now used mostly for graffitti artists and scavengers. Detroit has an astonishing 78,000 abandoned buildings across its 142 square miles. Last month the city declared bankruptcy, the largest municipality to ever do so in the United States. Credit: Getty Images

For residents of Detroit, the sight of the old Packard plant is unmistakable. What once was a bustling 3,500,000-square-foot factory producing luxury cars now sits empty and crumbling -- a metaphoric symbol of the Motor City itself.

(Image: Getty Images)

But Dr. Jill Van Horn of Ennis, Texas, hopes to turn things around for the better.  On Friday, the property rights of the old Packard plant went to Van Horn who won the property tax foreclosure auction with a bid of $6,038,000.  According to the Detroit Free Press, Van Horn plans to start the factory up again to produce modular homes.

“Modular homes and offices will be constructed on the site and shipped all over the word,” a spokesperson for Van Horn told the Free Press.

Today’s announcement is the first explanation from Van Horn regarding her interest in the Packard plant. The statement says Van Horn is joined by unnamed “partners and investors from Detroit, Wall Street and international firms.”

Their goal is to transform the 35-acre site “into a new economic center on the east side of Detroit,” the statement said. “Modular homes and offices will be constructed on the site and shipped all over the world. Building supplies will also be made there.”

The statement said an estimated 6,000 jobs would also be created.

Fingers crossed.

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