George Smith acquires Clearwater Capital for C-PACE expertise

LA-based multifamily financier looks for “market penetration” in merger with NY firm

George Smith Acquires Clearwater Capital for C-PACE Savvy
George Smith's Justin Piasecki and Clearwater Capital Management's Jonathan Seabolt (George Smith, Clearwater Capital Management, Getty)

George Smith Partners has acquired Clearwater Capital Management to expand its business into Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy lending.

The Century City-based commercial real estate financing firm bought the New York-based C-PACE specialist for undisclosed terms, the Commercial Observer reported.

“The acquisition of Clearwater Capital Management strategically complements our mission to broaden our capabilities and deepen our market penetration in commercial real estate finance,” Justin Piasecki, president of George Smith, said in a statement.

Clearwater, founded by Jonathan Seabolt in 2021, acquired that year to get up to speed with assessment financing, which allows commercial property owners to pay back loans for building upgrades through an assessment on their tax bills. 

Seabolt said Clearwater had $1 billion of financing requests last year for C-PACE deals.

Seabolt and William Burns, managing director at Clearwater, will join George Smith Partners and work out of the firm’s New York office. Burns, a former senior loan officer at C-PACE lender North Bridge, will serve as senior director of the merged company. 

George Smith Partners, a multifamily financier founded in 1992, has arranged $60 billion in debt and equity deals, with more than $3.5 billion in loans per year, according to its website. More than half its loans are outside the state.

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In 2022, Century City-based AXCS Capital, led by Evan Kinne and Ed Steffelin, acquired George Smith for undisclosed terms

Company founder George Smith, dubbed the “godfather” of real estate finance in Los Angeles, died in 2005. His annual real estate luncheon at the Century Plaza Hotel drew as many as 1,500 guests, and was called the “networking event of the year.”

David Rifkind, one of four partners to found George Smith Partners, died in 2017 at 51.

AXCS Capital, founded a few months earlier, billed itself as “a technology company redefining how capital advisory services are delivered in commercial real estate financing transactions,” according to its website.

The firm lists the former office of George Smith Partners and a second office in Anacortes, Washington, 80 miles north of Seattle.

— Dana Bartholomew

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