What Would You Do With AMC’s Abandoned Detroit Headquarters?

The ultimate karting complex? Or something even more creative…

As a former resident of Detroit, I can say firsthand: Times are tough in Motown. Unloading industrial real estate is especially difficult, as the Wayne County Treasurer well knows. In October, some 25,000 properties went up at a massive tax foreclosure auction. One of them, the former American Motors Corporation headquarters, sold for $500. But the buyer, Nicholas Casab, refused to pay back property taxes, which totaled roughly $232k. Wayne County voided the sale, and is now offering the ex-AMC property to the city. Detroit has until Jan. 4 to figure out if it wants the massive complex.

And this place is massive. The building, located off Plymouth Road in west Detroit, measures 1.5 million square feet on 57 acres. It originally housed the Kelvinator Crop. during the Twenties; after Nash Motor Co. merged with Kelvinator, and then with Hudson to form American Motors in the mid-Fifties, the building served as AMC’s corporate headquarters. Chrysler used the facility until 2009, eventually selling it off to a corporate entity, which in turn fell into tax arrears of $2 million. The building has since been scrapped of metal and left to rot.

But it’s a neat place, huge and vast and isn’t as dilapidated as some of Detroit’s other evacuated auto industry monoliths. The AMC building has history, too: In the Eighties and Nineties, it was Chrysler’s Jeep and Truck Engineering Center, responsible for the design of both the Dodge Ram pickup and Grand Cherokee.

We’re still partial to Fernando Palazuelo’s old plan to turn the Packard Plant into the ultimate go-karting complex. Given the keys to the old American Motors building, what would you do?