How Patrick Smith Turned WestPac into a Real Estate Success Story

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( — November 23, 2021) — 

Thirty years ago, a real estate developer and investor by the name of Patrick Smith was searching for new opportunities and found a potential development he knew could pay major dividends. But he needed a partner to help invest in the project.

Enter Alex Pananides, a fellow investor who had already found success of his own operating under the name WestPac. Together, they successfully invested in the project and the result was that they quickly discovered that they had many of the same ideals, visions for their futures, and approaches to business. They decided to work together on a long-term basis, and by 1998 Pananides had appointed Patrick Smith WestPac CEO.

Today, WestPac is responsible for over 5,000 apartments, seven hotels, five communities for seniors, and a range of condos, office buildings, and single-family subdivisions. Projects completed during the Patrick Smith WestPac era have accounted for over $7 billion, while achieving environmentally conscious and energy-efficient LEED certifications for new developments along the way.

But how did they get to this point? To understand that, you have to go back further to look at the story of Patrick Smith and Alex Pananides before they converged.

Alex Pananides 

Alex Pananides first launched WestPac in 1974. He immediately began amassing an impressive portfolio of projects that ranged from commercial to residential and everything in-between. Today, companies he’s led have been involved in over $1.5 billion in development and acquisitions throughout the western U.S. and beyond. 

At WestPac today, Pananides is responsible for corporate, strategic, and long-term planning for all assets both foreign and domestic.

Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith attended California Polytechnic State University, achieving his General Contractor license certification in 1974 while he was still a student before going on to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Architecture.

Graduating in 1976, Patrick Smith went on to develop a profound interest in all of the strategy, planning, and funding that went into real estate investing and development— combining a growing business sense with his keen architectural eye. From there, it was a matter of establishing his reputation and growing his portfolio of successful investments and developments.

Before long, he had done exactly that. By the time he met Alex Pananides, Smith had already developed over 500,000 square feet of single-family subdivisions, medical offices, and housing units.

Smith obtained his architectural license in July of 1985, his real estate broker’s license in May of 1986 and his NASD securities license in 1987. Smith’s career spans 48 years of real estate involvement.

Key Projects of the Patrick Smith WestPac Period

Successful projects completed during Patrick Smith’s tenure as the CEO of WestPac range from major multi-use developments to student housing, commercial real estate, and more. 

Here are some of the most significant projects that Smith has overseen as WestPac CEO and what went into making them a success.

Hotel Cerro

Hotel Cerro, a luxury hotel situated in San Luis Obispo, California is known for its premium accommodations. The project was constructed with the use of distinct architectural style, while maintaining many of the historical elements of the original building.

Hotel Cerro’s design is inspired by boutique hotels throughout Europe, like Thompson Hotels in London and Paris. This lends an air of luxury to the hotel without making it feel stuffy or uptight; instead guests can relax within its warmly decorated common spaces while enjoying their private balconies with views over San Luis Obispo. That said, many modern elements are introduced into this space— like large windows that let in plenty of light and a plethora of flatscreen TVs throughout. The overall alignment is focused on the guests, ensuring that their needs are met while they’re visiting Hotel Cerro.

The Rocks at Michigan State University

The Rocks student housing at Michigan State University offers a unique living experience for students, and it was all made possible by the development and investing abilities of Patrick Smith and WestPac.

Located in the heart of East Lansing, The Rocks is conveniently located near downtown and campus, giving residents an easy commute to class and work. The convenient location also means that there are plenty of places to explore nearby – from restaurants and shops on Grand River Avenue to the beautiful trails at Helen’s Woods. And with its proximity to campus, The Rocks provides a home away from home for MSU students who need reliable access to their classes or workplace while still having all the comforts of home!

The quality and affordable cost make it one of the best options available for MSU students looking for off-campus housing.

Elevation Apartments

Located in Okemos, MI, this two-phase project is well underway and, upon completion, will feature nearly 350 apartment units between its two phases. The second phase is expected to be completed by 2022, and the local community has already expressed excitement at the new opportunities this residential development will bring to the city.

Former Lake Trust Credit Union Development Project

The Lake Trust Credit Union building had been abandoned and neglected for years. As the decades passed, the building began to deteriorate and it became an eyesore in this neighborhood. Finally, Patrick Smith and fellow partners bought the property and is in the process of renovating the dilapidated former Lake Trust Credit Union Building just off of 7th street. The on site amenities such as the two-story atrium café overlooking a lit courtyard on the second floor or the fitness center on the 3rd floor provide a peaceful, inspiring environment for visitors and tenants alike.

The amazing location is just a block from the city’s main commercial corridor.

The building offers an abundance of parking for both employees and visitors. There are over 60 parking spaces located directly behind the building as well as street frontage on 5th Avenue. Among other incentives, there is also a generous allowance for tenant improvement dollars available to those who want to put their own stamp on the space.