About Us


Fernando Palazuelo

Developer, Packard Plant and CEO, Arte Express

Fernando Palazuelo was born in Madrid in 1955. The CEO of Arte Express, he has over thirty-five years of experience as an international developer for historic renovations around the globe. Most recently converting a large portion of the historic downtown core of Lima Peru, (21 buildings) and previously spurring historic development in Palma de Mallorca (36 buildings), Bhaktapur in Nepal, Barcelona (62 buildings) and Madrid, converting in total over one hundred and twenty buildings. In Lima, Arte Express has converted over 1.5 million square feet and brought over 15,000 jobs to the area through the process.

Arte Express Detroit, LLC purchased the Packard Plant property in the Wayne County Auction in 2013 and is working with his team to develop a master plan to historically restore this site. Mr. Palazuelo has a vision to bring back opportunity, jobs and commerce to the east side of Detroit through the Packard redevelopment. You can view his previous work at livingaroundart.com and his current work at packardplantproject.com.

Mr. Palazuleo lives in Lima, Peru.

Kari Smith, M.S.

Director of Development

Kari Smith, Director of Development, is a Michigan born Architectural Historian. She holds a Bachelors of Art in History from Loyola University, New Orleans and a Masters in Science in Historic Preservation from Eastern Michigan University. Hurricane Katrina brought Ms. Smith back to Michigan from New Orleans to reside in 2006.

Kari’s past in Detroit includes work under Mannik and Smith at the City of Detroit as a Historic Review Technician, and a Senior Project Manager in Southwest Detroit working on the preservation of historic buildings, park development, and beautification in the city. Kari currently sits on the Historic District Advisory Board for the City Council of Detroit. An avid promoter of the revitalization of Detroit, Kari writes papers for the Society for the Study of Midwest Literature, and guest teaches on architecture and Detroit’s future as the “come back city”. Kari’s grandfather Russell Smith worked as a Steel Buyer for The Packard Motor Car Company from 1927-52, tying her family history into this revolutionary project. Kari lives in Southwest Detroit.