Green development

Smart Growth

SM-DesignBuild is a design builder in San Diego that prioritizes Land preservation as a core environmental priority.

The Eco Village at Jamaica Plain

This 'Transit-Oriented Development’ is a downtown mixed-use infill project located on an old manufacturing site that includes 65,000sf of senior and multi-family housing, a Montessori day care, and neighborhood retail shops and services. SM DesignBuild provided real estate project management services from initial marketing efforts through the design and construction.

Located less than 1 block away from a rapid transit stop, this project incorporates all manner of green building techniques and provides neighborhood-scaled retail, public meeting spaces and day care, all designed to serve the needs of the community at large.

Off the Grid

Land preservation has always been one of our company's core environmental priorities.

Little Cayman Island - British West Indies

Green Real Estate Development | Green Remodeling Contractor

We’ve been ‘green’ for as long as there’s been such a term; from 1980’s passive solar adobe homes to today’s thermal wall assemblies and passive ventilation systems.  But its not often we get to go totally ‘Off the Grid’!  Our project on Little Caymans island in the British West Indies gave us this opportunity - beachfront cabins designed to withstand tropical hurricanes, rainwater harvesting with building foundations serving as underground water storage cisterns, passive ventilation and solar energy dramatically reducing energy consumption on this fragile island environment. The list goes on and on…! SM DesignBuild’s role in this green real estate development was providing design, architect,  project management and green contractor services throughout the project. If you are looking for a San Diego Contractor that is committed to green real estate development, give us a call!

"Stew designed a collection of wonderful energy-efficient and hurricane- resistant beach bungalows for my resort, the Southern Cross Club.  He used a variety of sustainable techniques to keep the building comfortable despite the island’s heat and humidity.  Every aspect of the buildings' water & energy systems, insulation, and layout was designed to minimizing impacts to the island's beach and marine environment while maximizing the comfort requirements my guests demand." - Peter L. Hillenbrand, Director, Southern Cross Club

Land Preservation

 Our 'smart growth' land preservation projects have to date set aside more than 200-acres of woodlands as permanent protected Open Space.

A 68-unit residential condominium project “clustered” on just 12-acres of its 59-acre site. Our efforts resulted in the preservation of the balance of the property; 47-acres of undeveloped woodlands adjacent to state-owned watersheds now managed by a regional land Trust.

Real Estate Development

For our own account or with our investor-partners, we’ve had years of experience identifying opportunity and managing the real estate development process from concept to turnkey. Stew and his team have designed and built many types of residential and light commercial projects, including new construction and remodels. As a design-builder, Stew serves as an architect and a contractor providing quality contractor services for new home construction and commercial construction, and has established SM DesignBuild as one of San Diego’s top contractors.

Real estate development expertise is gained through experience with sellers, banks and lenders, financial proformas, municipal approvals entities, engineers, and a keen sense of marketing. As a top real estate developer and contractor in San Diego, Stew’s expertise extends into the technical development and construction phases; managing architects & engineers, subcontractors and field crews, to real estate project management. Whether your project is new home construction, home remodeling, or a specialty project in the San Diego area, SM DesignBuild’s single point of contact architect and contractor services will help to streamline the process, reduce cost and timeframes, and insure a quality product.

Commercial Remodeling Contractor

With a tenant identified prior to acquisition, an abandoned liquor store was acquired and renovated as a ‘build to suit’ specialty office. Redevelopment challenges included historic district, floodplain, American Disability Act, zoning waivers and state building code variances. 

As a design build contractor, Stew and his team completed the remodel by providing the design concept, the architect services, and oversaw the construction as a single point of contact for the client. The design and remodel project improved the property and at the end of the 4-year lease term, the building was sold with a 165% return to investors.

"Stew designed, built, and managed every detail of the reconstruction of the building my company leased, including complex data and electrical installations necessary for our graphic design and print operations. Stew delivered a great product on schedule and was always available to help us with both start-up and ongoing building management issues.” 

- David Sears, owner/Print Resources Resources.

“Stew Mayer has managed several projects I have worked on. He is a hands-on manager with experience both as a developer and a construction manager with the ability to work well with a variety of regulators, Town Planners, contractors and consultants. I look forward to working with Stew again and would recommend him to others as well.”

-Jay Billings, owner/Northeast Geoscience

Re-Purposing/ Historic Restoration & Remodeling

Repurposing existing structures is about as 'green' as it gets.

Historic Landmark Remodel

The Westonian has been a Weston, Massachusetts landmark for over 200 years. Originally constructed as the Drabbington Inn, it was a stopover along the old Boston Post Road, colonial Boston’s earliest travel route to New York, and later was a ‘safe house’ for the Underground Railroad that transported slaves from the south to the ‘freed states’ in the north during the Civil War.

The renovation of the property was one of Stew’s most challenging renovation efforts. The 4-story antique wood frame structure required painstaking dismantling and reconstruction to reconfigure the building to it’s new use as an Assisted-Living facility while meeting all current building codes, regulatory requirements, and adhering to state historic structures requirements.

The project was awarded a Restoration commendation from the National Association of Homebuilders,  honoring SM DesignBuild as a top remodeling contractor in the area.

My general contracting firm has worked with Stew since the early 2000’s on challenging projects ranging from $1.0M - $16.0M in construction value, including the conversion of a 100-year old inn into an assisted living facility and a 68-unit condominium development. I've found Stew's breadth of capabilities, from management of complex development issues to a hands-on understanding of construction details, to be instrumental in helping to deliver a quality product while minimizing difficulty and delay.” - Michael J. Welch, owner/James J. Welch & Co., General Contractors

Liberty Square - Before 

An assemblage of distressed 1840’s mill buildings was acquired from 3 different lenders at deeply discounted pricing during. Upper story apartments were remodeled and upgraded.

Liberty Square - After

This remodel project included converting the first floor to light commercial. By providing the architect service and overseeing the construction from beginning to end, Stew and his team worked as a single point of contact for the client. For new construction or remodeling projects, let SM DesignBuild take care of everything for you.

Leaning Tower Remodel

A foreclosed, distressed antique (circa 1840) building with structural settlement on one side was purchased from the mortgagor at a deeply discounted total purchase price of $17,000. An engineered steel support system was installed in the basement to arrest further settlement, the basement and first floor were converted to professional office space, and upper floor apartments refurbished. The improved property was then sold, generating over a 400% return on invested capital.

Although safe and structurally stable, the slight “lean” of the building remains today, as shown in this recent photo of the property.

Intentional Community Housing

Shared community homes designed to foster connections and show a supportive living environment.

Sawyer Hill Cohousing

Green Real Estate Developer | Real Estate Project Management

A new construction 68-unit residential condominium project clustered on just 12 acres of its 59 acre site. Our efforts resulted in the preservation of the balance of the property; 47 acres of undeveloped woodlands adjacent to state owned watersheds now managed by a regional land Trust.  Our 'smart growth' land preservation projects have to date set aside more than 200 acres of woodlands as permanent protected Open Space.


Sawyer Hill includes a combination of many green development, smart-growth, land planning, and energy- conservation aspects that have made it a first of its kind in the U.S. Developed as the country’s first multi-neighborhood ‘Cohousing’ community (, Sawyer Hill’s social fabric emphasizes community participation, a sharing of resources, and preservation of its natural environment.



"Stew is very knowledgeable. He has experience in such a diverse range of design-build topics. We recommend that you give his company a call the minute you start thinking of a new project."

- Patricia L.