About Us

Smart Growth is an entrepreneurial real estate development and investment firm based in Oakland, California. We are committed to creating long-term solutions that benefit people and planet while generating profitable returns. By transforming underutilized urban land into bustling residential, commercial and cultural hubs; we are investing in the evolution of our communities and cities. As champions of sustainability, we view real estate as a powerful means to enact positive environmental, social and economic change.

Vision


Our vision is to facilitate the smart growth of cities by creating and promoting a vital mix of commercial and residential land uses that enliven neighborhoods and help to centralize society. To accomplish this, we focus on transit oriented, urban infill developments in densely populated areas. We build vertically with a goal of net zero energy, water, and waste buildings to reduce impact. We strive to establish a strong sense of place and community by creating open spaces that allow for solace within the urban environment; and activated complete to streets encourage connection and clean transportation.

Mission


Our mission is to catalyze sustainable development of residential and commercial properties that enable people to thrive. We dedicate ourselves to serving property owners, our private investors and our developer partners; and are committed to acquiring properties for competitive prices, swiftly and ethically. We are committed to generating risk-adjusted returns for our private lenders and equity partners, and to sourcing deals and structuring partnerships with win-win outcomes. Above all, we value ethical, sustainable business practices with mutually beneficial partnerships.

Philosophy


What is Smart Growth? It’s a way of developing thriving communities that are close to transportation, built with high efficiency in mind, and connected to the pulse of the city. Guided by a whole-systems approach to sustainability, we take on projects that have a positive impact on existing and future ecosystems. From site selection to renewable energy, our philosophy is founded upon an integral understanding of how to use land to create prosperity while benefiting people and minimizing environmental impact.

Development Principles

Cities are the key to environmental sustainability. As such, we are committed to urban infill development. By building on land that has already been allocated for human use, we are helping to maximize existing resources and reduce the harmful effects of suburban sprawl. A renewed emphasis on the myriad benefits of urban living guides us in everything we do.
Location selection is the most important factor in sustainable development. Building along transit corridors like railways and bus routes promotes greater walkability, reduces car dependence, and contributes to cleaner air. Higher-density close to public transportation encourages a foot and bicycle-friendly culture which in turn provides an enjoyable, sustainable answer to excessive carbon emissions.
We seek out the highest and best use of land in each of our projects. We build strategically in urban areas without sacrificing livability. Higher density living is our goal without detracting from the beauty and livability of an area. For urban infill developments, we look to develop vertically to maximize the efficiency of our land use.
Real estate is a powerful tool to connect people to places that have the potential to enrich and evolve our collective culture. Integrating new developments into the existing local culture is an essential part of our planning process. We look for ways to satisfy the needs of a community at large by designing for a diverse range of housing options and commercial uses that will enhance the quality of life for local residents and visitors alike. We consider how people will engage with one another, emphasizing open spaces and areas for collaboration and connection.
Our whole-systems approach to development includes energy plans that are self-sufficient and sustainable. High performance structures enhance economic and environmental outcomes by reducing impact and increasing the bottom-line of operations. We seek to design structures that are as close to net zero energy and water as possible, while also minimizing the amount of waste produced.
Our whole-systems approach to development includes energy plans that are self-sufficient and sustainable. High performance structures enhance economic and environmental outcomes by reducing impact and increasing the bottom-line of operations. We seek to design structures that are as close to net zero energy and water as possible, while also minimizing the amount of waste produced.
We believe in the need to shift from carbon-intensive transportation to cleaner, alternative modes. As such, we are committed to incorporating alternative transportation options into our developments including electric car, bicycle, and scooter shares on top of amenities like public transit passes to alleviate the need to own a car. By minimizing the amount of parking in our developments, we will be able to direct investments into these sorts of alternatives.
Human-centered design is key to our developments. Understanding the needs and desires of local and incoming residents is the starting point. From there, we look for ways to incorporate both low and high technology solutions to enhance the human experience. Smart features facilitate comfort, convenience and security; while beautiful and serene physical environments help people to integrate mind, body and spirit. Because of this, we view beautiful, intuitive design as an important and necessary element of long term sustainability. As such, we design our developments with an aesthetic sensibility that fits with the existing culture and improves enhances the experience of place.
The most desirable places to live often feature a combination of residential, commercial and recreational uses, all of which contribute to a unique sense of place. We are committed to creating vibrant and inspiring places where people can work, live and gather all in the same vicinity. An added benefit to placemaking near amenities is reduction of resource consumption.
We seek to activate the streetscape by populating ground floor spaces with vibrant local businesses. Along with basic amenities like grocery stores, convenience stores and salons; coffee shops, boutiques and specialty retailers give neighborhoods their own special character. Our mixed-use buildings feature residential units above commercial spaces, encouraging a high walkability index close to desirable amenities. Further, we plan to enhance the urban square by adding public features like outdoor lounges, local artworks and installations, and bicycle accessibility; all of which bring the focus back onto a thriving pedestrian culture

Investment Strategy


By investing in long-term solutions to the challenges we face in the 21st century, we’re putting the ‘smart’ before the ‘growth.’ When the health of a whole system is our bottom line, it gives us a clear target and motivates us to get there. We target developments with the potential to positively impact the environment, add value to the public, and produce profitable financial returns.

Investment Strategy Graphic-01

Opportunistic:

  • Ground up development and major repositioning for short term capital appreciation

These types of projects include:

  • Single Family Spec Builds and Fix & Flips
  • Multifamily and Mixed use developments
  • Co-living & Co-housing developments
  • Condo conversions & Lot subdivisions
  • Mini-lot developments

Value Add

  • Significant improvements to existing assets for cash flow and long term appreciation

These types of projects include

  • Multifamily value add investments
  • Mixed use value add investments
  • Adaptive reuse of commercial property
  • Redevelopment into co-living & co-housing

Meet the Team


Chris Porto

President & CEO

 

Chris Porto is an entrepreneur and real estate developer with a background in finance and sustainability. Before founding Smart Growth, Chris held positions at Deloitte and SunPower; where he helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars in capital for solar energy developments. An expert in capital raising, financial modeling and deal structuring; Chris values ethical, sustainable business practices above all. A tremendous sense of responsibility and passion for developing sustainable real estate permeates everything he does. To Chris, Smart Growth is a means to contribute towards a more sustainable culture, and it’s just the start. After graduating from Virginia Tech University with a degree in Finance, Chris moved to Japan where he studied martial arts and subsequently earned a black-belt in Aikido.

 
 
 
 
 

Business Associations


Philanthropy


Urban Plan
Project Aurora