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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Historic American Motors' headquarters site to undergo $66M redevelopment

For more than a generation, journalists, editors, and producers of television news looking to illustrate "by-the-numbers pieces" on the dismal state of American manufacturing have flocked to Detroit's ruins. Though neither the old Michigan Central train station nor the abandoned Packard plant on the city's east side had anything to do with the post oil-crisis decline of the U.S.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/news/historic-american-motors-headquarters-site-to-undergo-66m-redevel...
20 REPLIES 20
miata93
Advanced Driver

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't AMC also have facilities near Kenosha WI that included a large proving ground?
RokemRonnie
Instructor

AMC's main assembly plant was in Kenosha. The proving grounds were about 25 miles away, near Burlington. The proving ground facility is now owned by MGA an automotive testing firm.
miata93
Advanced Driver

The autocrossers in the Windy City Miata Club rented the proving ground once for a driving school event. This was back around 2000. We were not allowed to drive on any of the real cool parts though.
Flashman
Technician

A spell checker might not have found "...the the...", but it certainly would have noticed "refridgerator".
JohninNC
Instructor

Whenever I write the slang term "Fridge" I cringe knowing it's not correct but phonetically it works... Frige doesn't work to abbreviate refrigerator.
Don2545
New Driver

"Fridge" is a shortened form of "Frigidaire" the name of the General Motors appliance business, including electrically operated cooling boxes.
DUB6
Specialist

Solution: use "Ice Box"

Rich8
Intermediate Driver

what? duh
RokemRonnie
Instructor

Sorry for the spelling error. We're left to our own devices as there is no spell-checker active in the backend we use here.
Mac711
New Driver

Just a slight clarification: George Mason and James Nance got along great, but after Mason’s untimely death, George Romney was calling the shots at Nash-Kelvinator. He and Nance were like two young bucks fighting for dominance of the proposed American Motors herd. As we now know all too well, Romney won both the battle and the war.
farna
Advanced Driver

That's correct, though I doubt things would have gone much differently had George Mason lived. Mason had orchestrated a hand-shake deal with Nance for AMC and Studebaker-Packard (S-P) to share some parts manufacturing right before he suddenly got ill and died (of pancreatitis and pneumonia). Nance repeatedly rejected bids from AMC for various reasons, but the true reason was that he felt that AMC needed him (S-P V-8s, specifically), but he didn't really need AMC. I doubt he'd have done more than piss Mason off like he did Romney. Romney ordered his engineering department to develop a V-8 ASAP, and they did it in 18 months! Remember, this was slide rule and drawing board days, a clean sheet design can hardly be developed and put in production that fast with computers now! They did sort of cheat though. AMC Engineering hired Davis Potter from Kaiser, who had worked on a prototype V-8 for that company. The AMC Gen1 250/287/327 has a little resemblance to the Kaiser prototype, but it's not a copy or improved version -- it's a clean sheet design. Still, having an engineer with V-8 design experience sped things up significantly.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Good to see this facility will have use again.
Timbo
Intermediate Driver

NOT the facility, just the site after knocking it down. As a former AMC employee at that office, I object to Duggan's "ruin porn". It was raped and ruined after it was purchased by scrappers.
JDHilton
Intermediate Driver

The scrappers did tremendous damage, but the city never seemed to care much about them. Last I knew, the penalty for fencing in Detroit was only having to SELL the stolen merchandise back to the victim. (Happened to a nonprofit where my daughter worked.)
MadMac
Intermediate Driver

The redevelopment that is making Michigan great again
is due entirely to becoming a Right-to-Work state in 2013.
KR
New Driver
Zephyr
Instructor

So basically, the beautiful and well-designed old landmark will be torn down and replaced by a couple of warehouse-like buildings. Prediction: after the auto parts supplier goes bankrupt the building will become an Amazon distribution center.
RokemRonnie
Instructor

Any modern tenant would want the office section to be gutted and completely rebuilt, much as Ford is doing at the Michigan Central train station. There are reasons why GM moved out of the old General Motors Building and into the RenCen, and why Chrysler moved out of Highland Park and built a new campus in Auburn Hills.

As for the factory section, that was built almost a century ago. It's a multistory factory with internal courtyards. Modern factories typically are large, single floor facilities with huge amounts of uninterrupted space.

Old buildings are beautiful but most are not suitable, as is, for the needs of modern businesses.
Robert_A
Pit Crew

Zephyr: No, the front office building stays, although it will be totally gutted out and rebuilt for office purposes of the 21st century, which means there will likely be broad, open floor plans for the workers there, with fewer, but larger work areas, rather than a myriad of small, individual offices, with glass paned doors off of long hallways coursing through the building. The building will have a 100% asbestos removal procedure, and all the windows, plumbing, HVAC, communication and electrical systems will be scrapped and replaced by state-of-the-art systems, all while preserving and restoring, as mch as possible the exterior of the front office building.

 

The old Kelvinator production facilities behind the front office building will be demolished, as is said in the article, as they are around 100 years old, and technically obsolete for any sort of modern manufacturing and/or warehousing purposes, which now prefers and uses single-floor designs. With over 50 acres land, there is room for at least two of the new mega-sized Amazon supply warehoused, or a medium-sized assembly factory.

DUB6
Specialist

   There may be a few nits to pick in this story (as pointed out in the responses), but I enjoyed it and have learned a lot from it (AND the responses).  As others, I'm torn between feeling sad about losing those old landmark buildings and understanding why they usually are better being replaced.  I applaud those companies that can at least partially restore and reuse some of the more distinctive, beautiful and historical parts - making them look mostly original but also modernly functional.  I would hope that at least portions of this one can have that happen - but sometimes the years of neglect makes that impossible - and I've no idea how this one has fared.

   Thanks to Hagerty for giving us history lessons and occasional updates on the facilities that relate to how the automotive industry grew up!  🙂