CRG Taps Industry Veteran J.J. Smith to Lead Residential Business

CHICAGO – CRG, the real estate development and investment arm of Chicago-based Clayco, today announced that J.J. Smith has joined its executive leadership team as Managing Partner of its residential business. Smith comes to CRG with over a decade of leadership experience at Chicago-based CA Ventures, where he successfully launched vertically integrated real estate development and investment platforms that included more than 40,000 units of housing and over $6 billion in executed projects.

In his role as managing partner, Smith will strategically capitalize on CRG’s integrated platform to deliver best-in-class properties for all residential asset classes across North America, including multifamily, student housing, co-living, senior living and workforce housing. Significant projects on the horizon for Smith include CRG’s redevelopment of the former Bridgford Foods site in Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood into a mixed-use residential project, along with residential projects underway in California, Florida and Texas.

“We are excited to bring J.J.’s entrepreneurial drive and strategic guidance to the CRG leadership team,” said Shawn Clark, President of CRG. “As we continue to invest in and grow our residential platforms, CRG will benefit from J.J.’s depth of experience in building and managing billion-dollar real estate portfolios and recruiting and retaining the talent necessary to execute with precision.”

Prior to joining CRG, Smith served as Principal of CA Ventures and President of CA Student Living, where he helped orchestrate the firm’s explosive growth from a small student housing start-up with under $100 million in assets into a global development and investment firm with over $12 billion in assets across multiple real estate sectors.

“It’s an honor to be entrusted with the growth and expansion of CRG’s already successful residential development portfolio,” said Smith. “I look forward to leveraging the power of Clayco’s fully-integrated design-build model — part of an extraordinary vision by Clayco founder Bob Clark — with CRG’s national development and investment expertise to deliver innovative, world-class residential properties.”

Smith holds a Masters of Business Administration and Bachelors of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois. He was a Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 recipient in 2018, serves as a member of the National Multifamily Housing Council’s student housing committee and the Urban Land Institute’s Student Housing Council, and champions volunteer involvement for Habitat for Humanity and the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

About CRG

CRG is a privately held real estate development firm that has developed more than 8,500 acres of land and delivered over 197 million square feet of commercial, industrial, institutional and multi-family assets exceeding $12 billion in value. CRG, headquartered in St. Louis, leverages a powerful North American platform with local market expertise and offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Southern California and Philadelphia. CRG’s philosophy of developing for the future and anticipating the enhanced needs of next generation users led to the creation of their industrial brand, The Cubes, and their multi-family brand, Chapter. For more information, visit CRG’s website at

About Clayco

Clayco is a full-service, turnkey real estate development, master planning, architecture, engineering, and construction firm that safely delivers clients across North America the highest quality solutions on time, on budget, and above and beyond expectations. With $3.25 billion in revenue for 2019, Clayco specializes in the “art and science of building,” providing fast track, efficient solutions for industrial, commercial, institutional and residential related building projects. For more information visit