Months ago, Detroit News reported that the historic home of Kelvinator, American Motors, and Jeep-Truck Engineering, known in recent years as the Plymouth Road Office Complex (PROC), was reportedly being slowly destroyed as its new owner was tearing out valuable metals.
When the old Chrysler Group went into bankruptcy, PROC was not transferred to the new Chrysler Group; the bankrupt entity sold it to a new owner, who flipped it to Terry Williams, convicted in 2004 of running a “chop shop” (an outfit that takes apart stolen cars and sells the parts), and who reportedly owed $930,000 in taxes on the property by April 2013. Williams claimed that he was not actually destroying the facility to get scrap metal, and said he had a federal grant to convert the building into a home for autistic children. The Detroit News appeared dubious about his evidence for having such a grant, and these photos, taken recently by former JTE electrical engineer Robert Klacza, show good cause for their skepticism.
The building was opened in 1927 as a refrigerator factory for Kelvinator. While the building itself is in good shape and has a grand facade, and has been modernized to support truck and Jeep engineering and prototyping, it failed to sell during the mid-2000s with an asking price of $10 million. The picturesque complex in an unsavory section of Detroit has multiple buildings, with 1.5 million square feet of space on 50 acres; that includes 370,000 square feet of R&D space, 500,000 square feet of engineering/computer room space, warehousing, and administrative/office space. The complex also had a health activity center, auditorium, and cafeteria.
The city was to have foreclosed in 2014, but appears to have moved forward more quickly, most likely as a result of newspaper coverage.
While efforts are under way to save old Ford plants in Detroit, no such rescue attempts appear to have been organized for this grand facility which has no shortage of historical significance; it may, indeed, be too late for any attempt at preservation or serious re-use, with cabling likely torn out. However, it is ironic that as Chrysler runs short on office space in Auburn Hills, a development center which was until recently used to design and prototype Jeeps and Dodge trucks is in the hands of the district court, exposed to vandals, thieves, and the elements.
See more photos of the Plymouth Road Office Complex (PROC) as it was, and as it is now.
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