How Patrick Smith Rose from Architecture Student to CEO of WestPac

Pat Smith WestPac

Pat Smith may not be one of the most public figures in real estate, but he’s considered one of the most shrewd and accomplished within the industry. So how did this contractor, architect, real estate broker, and former securities dealer become the leader of some of the most successful real estate investment and development firms in the western U.S.? Let’s find out.

Early Life

When Pat Smith was young, real estate development was only a peripheral focus. His initial interest was in a much more up-close-and-personal aspect of real estate— architecture. Long passionate about how a plot of land and some building materials could be transformed into a functional, beautiful, and awe-inspiring piece of art, he pursued unique architecture and distinctive development at every opportunity that he could.

This led Pat to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. In 1976, he earned a B.S. in architecture after a successful college career that saw him hone his craft and expand his interests. By the time he graduated, Smith was interested in the creative aspect of designing buildings and in the business side of launching developments and investing in real estate.

During college, Smith began his journey into the world of real estate with his own venture.

Smith & Company

Smith has been a general contractor since 1974. His real estate investment and development company has now invested in and developed real estate projects ranging from subdivisions and multifamily housing to student housing, senior housing, and SFRs. With over 5,000 multi-family housing units completed throughout the Western U.S., Smith and Company, specifically Pat Smith himself, has been responsible for developing over 500,000 square feet of medical offices, single-family divisions, and more.

Early Years at WestPac

WestPac was founded in 1974 by Alex Pananides, and in 1998 they selected Pat Smith as their new CEO— a role he maintains to this day. 

Pat Smith’s vision for the company has always been a dual focus on building on the legacy of the firm’s early work while expanding into untapped areas and increasing innovation for the organization nationwide.

As a result, the Pat Smith WestPac era has resulted in over 5,000 apartment units, seven hotels, five senior living communities, single-family subdivisions, and numerous condominiums and office buildings.

Notable Projects

Here are some of the most notable projects for which Pat Smith has been recognized in recent years.

Hotel Cerro

Hotel Cerro is a unique architectural gem in San Luis Obispo, incorporating elements of a historic 100-year-old building while reinforcing it with steel beams and combining modern luxury with classic style.

Lake Trust Credit Union Building Project

The former Lake Trust Credit Union building situated in a prime position in downtown Lansing had been out of use for some time until the Pat Smith WestPac team was able to secure the project. Now, the $30 million development project is set to completely revitalize Lansing’s downtown with a mixed-use space that features residences in the upper levels and retail spaces on the ground floor that are already being leased.

The Rocks at Michigan State University

As CEO of WestPac Campus Communities, the student housing arm of WestPac, Pat Smith led the development and sale of The Rocks, a 400-bed student housing community at Michigan State University in East Lansing. By the time the development was made available for students, it was 95% pre-leased before the school year had even begun.

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