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CRG Looks To Raise National Profile With New Hires

J.J. Smith and his wife, Julia Smith

J.J. Smith joined CRG, the real estate development and investment arm of Chicago-based Clayco, as managing partner of its residential business. Smith had spent more than a decade at CA Ventures, where he became president of CA Student Living and helped launch more than 40,000 units of housing.

It’s the latest in a series of high-profile hires by St. Louis-based CRG to boost its national profile. Last year, it brought aboard Geoffrey Kasselman, the former national leader of Newmark Knight Frank’s industrial practice group, as national accounts director. CRG also hired David Reifman, former commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, in 2019 to help expand into new markets.

In addition, Clayco tapped Lori Healey, the former CEO of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, to head its Chicago office, which will include overseeing the company’s role in building O’Hare Airport’s new Jeanne Gang-designed $2.2B terminal.

“As we continue to invest in and grow our residential platforms, CRG will benefit from JJ’s depth of experience in building and managing billion-dollar real estate portfolios and recruiting and retaining the talent necessary to execute with precision,” CRG President Shawn Clark said.

As managing partner, Smith will help complete CRG projects across North America in all residential asset classes, including multifamily, student housing, co-living, senior living and workforce housing.

The company is getting ready to launch a number of significant projects, including the redevelopment of the former Bridgford Foods site at 170 North Green St. in Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood into a mixed-use residential project, and has several other residential projects underway in California, Florida and Texas.