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A Possible End to a Favorite 'Ruin'

Like many Detroit-area residents, I hate when pictures of the decaying Packard plant shows up as a symbol of the city's demise. Most people call this "ruin porn."

Good news -- it may be getting blasted if "Transformers 3" decides to shoot here. And it sounds like one other investor is looking at it for rehabilitation. Either way, a decision would be nice.

According to MLive quoting the Tribune Chronicle, "a major Hollywood studio is studying it as a site for shooting the 'Transformers 3' movie. The reason? It can blow things up in it, and the damage hardly will be noticed."

With its post-Apocalypse bleakness and history of fire, water, wind and extreme vandalism - even shocks from ''techno'' music youth raves - Detroit's massive Packard Motor Car Co. factory has become a metaphor for a struggling city and the entire U.S. auto industry.

Rising four and five stories above ground, with more space below ground, the Packard complex grew into a 3.5 million-square-foot behemoth. ... For decades, the factory produced what was considered the world's best luxury cars, surpassing even GM's Cadillac and Ford's Lincoln brands, before the last Packard rolled off the line in 1956, the victim of its larger rivals' superior marketing and financial power.

Small chemical, manufacturing and other companies nestled in the complex's strong walls after car production ended. But the gradual erosion of Detroit's urban core since has exposed the buildings to the city's homeless, criminals and vandals - sources of numerous fires over the years - and attracted others with its aura of bygone glory.

The building covering 38 acres is listed for sale for $13 million, although someone who could cash out the owners, Bioresources Inc., probably could get it ''for a lot less than that,'' said David Wax, who's selling the property for Burger Easton & Co.

Wax said he was scheduled to meet last week with people from the Paramount movie studio who are looking at the building to shoot the third installment of the blockbuster Transformer techno-fiction movie series.

''They fell in love with it because they can blow up parts in the movie and it won't matter,'' he said.

Wax said he expects to meet toward the end of the month with someone with a longer term interest and who, ironically, could push the century-old factory into the forefront of the automotive industry's drive for energy efficient vehicles.

''I have a party from out of town who wants to bring a 'green' car company to Detroit and feels he can rehab the plant,'' Wax said. ''It'd be a major project to put Humpty-Dumpty back together, but the feeling is the bones are still good. It's probably 10 times today's standards for strength.''

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