DOCO: Boots on the Ground

Posted on February 24, 2017

DOCO Project Manager Ryan Porter lives just a few blocks from work and isn’t about to move now.

Photography by Jason Sinn

You could characterize Ryan Porter’s professional journey to date as Local Boy Makes Huge.

Porter, 32, is a project manager of the eagerly awaited Downtown Commons, or DOCO, the public square in which Golden 1 Center may be the star attraction—but certainly not the only one.

Take the $200 million Kimpton Hotel springing up onsite, a mixed-use vertical if ever there was one: two levels of garage (500 spaces) topped by two levels of retail, a third-level ballroom and rooftop pool—it’s actually one of several roofs since the building is designed in steps—and above that, 250 hotel rooms on levels 5 through 11. Wait, there’s more: Floors 12 to 16 will be what Porter calls “45 high-end condominiums.” How high-end? “Let’s just say very,” he says, grinning broadly.

Porter says he’s thrilled to be working on DOCO but that it’s not his first large-scale project. Since graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in construction management, he’s worked on a number of ground-gobbling hospital developments, including Kaiser Permanente in Roseville. “I’ve worked on some very big stuff, but DOCO has so many layers, parts, pieces and operations, I’m always engaged,” he says one recent morning in the downtown offices of his employer, JMA Ventures, LLC. JMA owns the land on which the Downtown Plaza sat, imposing and largely profitless for decades, and is the principal developer of DOCO.

As though custom-made for one of the expected demographics drawn to DOCO, Porter, his wife, Sara, and their brand-new baby daughter live in a townhome at 14th and P streets. Sara, a toxicologist and forensic scientist, works for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s crime lab. She’s close enough to walk to her job near the Department of Motor Vehicles in the Broadway Corridor but “as a new mom, she’s going to have to parcel out her energy for a while,” says Ryan, who does walk the 10-or-so blocks to his office on J Street between Sixth and Seventh streets. He also spends a good deal of his day on the DOCO site, which is between L and J and Fourth and Seventh streets.

Porter is a co-founder of Metro Edge, a growing group of 40-and-under media-savvy, career-driven young professionals. He says being involved with the organization, which is part of the Sacramento Metro Chamber, “is a natural fit for anyone who lives or works downtown.” He adds that he and his wife almost always walk to dinner or to meet friends.

He says when he moved back to the area after college, “I knew I wanted to work on something that was going to help mold Sacramento’s future,” he says. “I think you’ll find that for all of us working on DOCO, this isn’t just about loading up the place with tenants and cashing our paychecks. This really is a labor of love. I live here and work here. I want this project to be great.”